In my home state, there is a statute regarding child seats.
§ 20-137.1. Child restraint systems required.
(a) Every driver who is transporting one or more passengers of less than 16 years of age shall have all such passengers properly secured in a child passenger restraint system or seat belt which meets federal standards applicable at the time of its manufacture.
(a1) A child less than eight years of age and less than 80 pounds in weight shall be properly secured in a weight-appropriate child passenger restraint system. In vehicles equipped with an active passenger-side front air bag, if the vehicle has a rear seat, a child less than five years of age and less than 40 pounds in weight shall be properly secured in a rear seat, unless the child restraint system is designed for use with air bags. If no seating position equipped with a lap and shoulder belt to properly secure the weight-appropriate child passenger restraint system is available, a child less than eight years of age and between 40 and 80 pounds may be restrained by a properly fitted lap belt only.
Here's the source.
I am confused on the first sentence in a1, particularly concerning a child who is older than eight but who weighs less than 80 pounds. Does he have to be secured in a child passenger restraint system?
It comes down to the "and." If the "and" means a logical disjunction, then the statute has no bearing on either an 81 pound six-year-old or a 72 pound eleven-year-old. They may sit in the front with a lap and shoulder belt if they wish (and no one else has called "shotgun").
However, if the intent of the law is to keep smaller children from being injured by airbags, then perhaps the lawmakers should have rephrased, removing the age, to something like "A child above 80 pounds may sit in a lap and shoulder belt in the front seat. Children under 80 pounds shall be properly secured in a weight-appropriate child passenger restraint system in a rear seat."
I'm having trouble interpreting the letter of the law. I'm not sure what the spirit of the law is, either. In a normal reading (as opposed to being tried in court by lawyers), does this statute apply to my 72 pound, eleven-year-old? That is, does 20-137.1 require me to put my eleven-year-old in a car seat?