Berrien County man trying to change Michigan car seat law

SAINT JOSEPH, Mich. – A Berrien County man is trying to change Michigan’s law that requires parents to strap their kids into car seats.

Steve Doak, a 10-year magistrate at the Berrien County Courthouse, said a loophole in the car seat law has allowed violators to repeatedly go unpunished. “Time after time I would see these parents come in with a car seat and I knew for a fact they weren’t using them,” he said. “There was no punishment, there was no penalty.”

The current law requires judges to dismiss citations if a car seat is brought to the court.

“People that don’t want to pay the money will go out, borrow one, bring one in (and) get their ticket dismissed,” Doak said. “And then give it back to their relative and their kids are not protected.”

Doak approached State Representative John Proos at a grocery store with his concerns. “After so many years I had to get a hold of somebody.”

“It turns out it was something we really needed to address,” said Proos.

Proos contacted several other magistrates across Michigan who shared Doak’s concerns. “You can imagine how many other magistrates, by law, must dismiss those tickets,” Proos said. “Those folks (that are) unfortunately gaming the system choose not to strap their kids in.”

Wednesday a bill sponsored by Proos to change the law passed unanimously in the Michigan Senate. The House of Representatives still needs to hear the bill before it goes into effect.

Doak said that if a change is made, he’s looking to enforcing the law with repeat violators. “(They’ll) have shock on their face the next time and I tell them ‘sorry, there’s no freebee anymore.’”



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