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      Michigan drivers may pay the price for not having their children in safety seats

      In the past, Michigan drivers have been able to get away with not having their children in a safety seat - but soon the fines and penalties may become unavoidable.

      Michigan legislation requires children under age eight to be in a booster seat, and requires children under the age of four to be secured in a safety seat.

      Currently, violators can avoid fees and court costs if they buy a child safety seat before their court appearance date.

      However, that all may change. Under a bill passed by the senate Wednesday, judges would no longer be required to wave the court penalites.

      7&4 spoke with Safe Kids North Shore Wednesday, who is in favor of the bill. Jennifer Ritter, the Injury Prevention Coordinator for Munson Trauma and the MSU Extension office, stated "We do support the bill because we've actually had situations here locally, where someone has gotten a violation and instead of purchasing a seat to go get the violation waved, they've actually just borrowed one, or picked one up off the street that was in a dumpster. They're really not going through the actions to make their child safe-which is a concern."

      Safe Kids North Shore offers free car seat checks twice a month. They are held on the 2nd Friday at the Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office Facility Garage (320 Washington St) and on the 4th Friday at the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Garfield Station (3000 Albany). Safe Kids will also help you set up an appointment with people that work for local law enforcement and fire prevention agencies if those times don't work with your schedule.

      Also, if your car seat is found to be defective for any reason or you are unable to purchase a safety seat, Safe Kids can help. Ritter said, "When somebody gets one of these violations and they don't go through the proper steps to make sure their child's safe - the frustrating thing for us is there's no reason for that because we do have programs to provide people in our local communities with seats if they don't have the means to get those seats."

      The bill passed 35-1 by the state Senate Wednesday, and has now been sent to the House for consideration.