Kronzek Firm Attorneys

Can improperly installed car seats bring CPS to your door?

It sounds ludicrous, right? That the state would investigate a parent even when that mom or dad thought their child’s car seat was properly installed, but it actually wasn’t? Well, the truth is, while CPS certainly isn’t going to go door to door, asking to view your car seat installation techniques, they can get involved for this very reason. A recent accident on northbound I-75 involving a Jeep Cherokee carrying 10 passengers, has highlighted this exact point.


According to police reports, officers are currently investigating a crash that took place on August 26th in Bay County. The Jeep Cherokee veered across two lanes of traffic and then rolled four or five times, before ending up on it’s hood in the median. Inside were 10 passengers, six of whom were children. And apparently, none of the children were properly secured.


All six children were seated, along with one adult, in the cargo area at the back of the vehicle. The youngest, a three-year-old, was seated on the adult’s lap. The remaining children, boys and girls ranging in age from six to nine, were all seated together in a huddle in the back of the car. They were not in car seats or strapped in with seat belts.


Thankfully, none of the individuals in the car have suffered life-threatening injuries. But chances are, some of them are in for a rough ride none-the-less. Police are still investigating this incident.  One fact that has not escaped them is that all six of the children in the car were not properly restrained. As a result, they were far more vulnerable to harm in the event of an accident.


People only get caught for incorrect child seat installation through interactions with police for other reasons.


While there may well be many parents who do not properly restrain their children while driving, only those who encounter law enforcement or are involved in accidents are discovered. And no one ever knows when either is imminent in your future, which means that you are unlikely to expect CPS involvement until it’s already happening.


There are numerous instances of people being pulled over for speeding, drunk driving or expired license plates, who are then faced with child endangerment charges because their children weren’t properly secured. So it isn’t a long shot to expect that certain individuals in the Jeep Cherokee will have to face the music for not properly restraining their children.


Michigan law states that all children under the age of 4 must ride in a properly installed car seat that is placed in the rear seat of the vehicle. The only instance where a child younger than 4 may ride in the front seat of the car, is when all other seats are occupied and the front airbag has been disabled. Additionally, the law also requires that all children under the age of 8, or 4′ 9″ tall (whichever comes first) be buckled into a car seat or a booster seat.


According to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, over 70 percent of children’s car seats are improperly installed. If you are unsure about how to properly secure your child’s car seat in your vehicle, we encourage you to contact your local police department and ask for help. Most sheriff’s departments, city police departments and state police posts have someone on staff that can help you with the correct installation of your children’s car seats.  As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  

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