Ohio Lawmaker Works To Tighten State's Child Seat Laws

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UPDATED: Monday May 19, 2014 5:28 PM

In December 2013, first responders rushed to the scene of a report of a child struck by a car.  The child would eventually die from his injuries, after police say his father-- Natividad de Jesus Hernandez-- ran over him with his vehicle.

Hernandez was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide.

Union County Prosecutor David Phillips says the boy's death was result of not being restrained in a child restraint seat.

A jury, he says, will never hear that.

"You can't tell a jury that this child's death was the result of not being restrained. We can't enter evidence for that or use it as a basis for the prosecution,” Phillips says.

In Ohio, failure to properly restrain a child 4-years-old or older is a secondary offense.  That means police can't pull the driver over unless they find some other violation first.

That decision, prosecutors say, is costing lives.

The Ohio Highway Patrol reports eight children under the age of 15 were killed in car accidents in 2011. That number dropped to three in 2012, then skyrocketed to 15 last year.

Ohio lawmaker Dorothy Perlanda called Ohio laws on child restraints disturbing.  "As a lawyer for 31 years, I couldn't understand how this bill, this law came to be.  It's simply not right.”

She's now working to change it.

"Unfortunately we have to have a tragic experience like this to happen before we recognize a flaw in the law needs to be addressed," Perlanda explains.

Under Ohio law, a driver can be stopped for driving an unrestrained child under the age of four.  House Bill 480 deals with children four years and older.

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