Car seat law doesn't apply to drivers for hire

Law doesn't prevent babies from riding on parents' laps in cabs

A lot has changed when it comes to car seat laws in the last couple decades and while you wouldn't expect to see a parent simply holding a baby in their lap in a moving vehicle, it is legal in some cases.

According to state law, "drivers for hire" are exempt from child car seat laws, but the Defenders found out not everyone is aware of that.

We sent a producer, with baby intow, downtown to catch a cab.

"You don't have a car seat or anything, do you?" the producer asked.

The driver replied, "No, I don't."

"Do we need one in San Antonio?" the producer asked.

"It's up to you," the driver said.

The producer got in the cab and rode around downtown with his baby in his lap.

He got out and hailed another cab to see if he would have a similar experience.

"I won't get in trouble if I put her in my lap?" the producer asked.

"No, I can get in trouble," the second driver responded.

Despite the driver's concerns about potentially being held liable, he allowed the baby to ride unrestrained in his car with our producer.

Taxi driver Cruz Chavira who sits on the city's transportation advisory board, is not in favor of the law as it is written.

"I don't like it, I don't like putting drivers and babies in harm's way," Chavira said.

He thinks the city should do more than stand behind the state law.

"City regulation covers themselves by saying that drivers should observe all state, local and federal laws that apply," Chavira said.

Child health and safety advocate Susan Douglass said regardless of what the law says, the bottom line with parents should be the safety of their children.

"I think if a parent is willing to travel in a vehicle for hire, then I think they need to take the responsibility to provide those type of car seats for their children," Douglass said.

Chavira adds, a driver always has the right to refuse service, and despite the law, he recommends it in cases where a child would be traveling unrestrained.

Click here for a link to the state law.

For a list of recent stories April Molina has done, click here.

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