438.30  USE OF OCCUPANT RESTRAINING DEVICES.
   (a)   Definitions.  For the purpose of this section, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.
      (1)   "Automobile" means any commercial tractor, passenger car, commercial car, or truck that is required to be factory-equipped with an occupant restraining device for the operator or any passenger by regulations adopted by the United States Secretary of Transportation pursuant to the "National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966," 80 Stat. 719, 15 U.S.C. 1392.
      (2)   "Commercial tractor," "passenger car," and "commercial car" have the same meanings as in Ohio R.C. 4501.01.
      (3)   "Occupant restraining device" means a seat safety belt, shoulder belt, harness, or other safety device for restraining a person who is an operator of or passenger in an automobile and that satisfies the minimum Federal vehicle safety standards established by the United States Department of Transportation.
      (4)   "Passenger" means any person in an automobile, other than its operator, who is occupying a seating position for which an occupant restraining device is provided.
      (5)   "Tort action" means a civil action for damages for injury, death, or loss to person or property. "Tort action" includes a product liability claim, as defined in Ohio R.C. 2307.71, and as asbestos claim, as defined in Ohio R.C. 2307.91, but does not include a civil action for damages for breach of contract or another agreement between persons.
      (6)   "Vehicle" and "motor vehicle," as used in the definitions of the terms set forth above, have the same meanings as in Ohio R.C. 4511.01.
   (b)   Prohibited Acts.  No person shall do any of the following:
      (1)   Operate an automobile on any street or highway unless he or she is wearing all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device, or operate a school bus that has an occupant restraining device installed for use in its operator's seat unless he or she is wearing all of the available elements of the device, as properly adjusted.
      (2)   Operate an automobile on any street or highway unless each passenger in the automobile who is subject to the requirement set forth in division (b)(3) of this section is wearing all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device.
      (3)   Occupy, as a passenger, a seating position on the front seat of an automobile being operated on any street or highway unless he or she is wearing all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device.
      (4)   Operate a taxicab on any street or highway unless all factory-equipped occupant restraining devices in the taxicab are maintained in usable form.
   (c)   Exceptions.
      (1)   Division (b)(3) of this section does not apply to a person who is required by R.C. § 4511.81 or a substantially equivalent municipal ordinance to be secured in a child restraint device or booster seat.
      (2)   Division (b)(1) of this section does not apply to a person who is an employee of the United States Postal Service or of a newspaper home delivery service, during any period in which the person is engaged in the operation of an automobile to deliver mail or newspapers to addressees.
      (3)   Divisions (b)(1) and (b)(3) of this section do not apply to a person who has an affidavit signed by a physician licensed to practice in this state under R.C. Chapter 4731 or a chiropractor licensed to practice in this state under R.C. Chapter 4734 that states the following:
         A.   That the person has a physical impairment that makes use of an occupant restraining device impossible or impractical;
         B.   Whether the physical impairment is temporary, permanent, or reasonably expected to be permanent;
         C.   If the physical impairment is temporary, how long the physical impairment is expected to make the use of an occupant restraining device impossible or impractical.
      (4)   Divisions (b)(1) and (b)(3) of this section do not apply to a person who has registered with the Registrar of Motor Vehicles in accordance with division (c)(5) of this section.
      (5)   A person who has received an affidavit under division (c)(3) of this section stating that the person has a permanent or reasonably expected to be permanent physical impairment that makes use of an occupant restraining device impossible or impracticable may register with the Registrar of Motor Vehicles attesting to that fact. Upon such registration, the Registrar shall make that information available in the law enforcement automated data system. A person included in the database under division (c)(5) of this section is not required to have the affidavit obtained in accordance with division (c)(3) of this section in their possession while operating or occupying an automobile.
      (6)   A physician or chiropractor who issues an affidavit for the purposes of division (c)(3) or (c)(4) of this section is immune from civil liability arising from any injury or death sustained by the person who was issued the affidavit due to the failure of the person to wear an occupant restraining device unless the physician or chiropractor, in issuing the affidavit, acted in a manner that constituted willful, wanton, or reckless misconduct.
      (7)   The Registrar of Motor Vehicles shall adopt rules in accordance with R.C. Chapter 119 establishing a process for a person to be included in the database under division (c)(5) of this section. The information provided and included in the database under division (c)(5) of this section is not a public record subject to inspection or copying under R.C. § 149.43.
   (d)   Officers Not Permitted to Stop Cars to Determine Violation.  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no law enforcement officer shall cause an operator of an automobile being operated on any street or highway to stop the automobile for the sole purpose of determining whether a violation of division (b) of this section has been or is being committed or for the sole purpose of issuing a ticket, citation, or summons for the violation or for causing the arrest of or commencing a prosecution of a person for the violation.  No law enforcement officer shall view the interior or visually inspect any automobile being operated on any street or highway for the sole purpose of determining whether the violation has been or is being committed.
   (e)   Use of Fines for Educational Program.  All fines collected for violations of division (b) of this section shall be forwarded to the State Treasurer for deposit in the funds as set forth in Ohio R.C. 4513.263(E).
   (f)   Limitations on Evidence Used for Prosecution.
      (1)   Subject to division (f)(2) of this section, the failure of a person to wear all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device in violation of division (b)(1) or (b)(3) of this section or the failure of a person to ensure that each minor who is a passenger of an automobile being operated by that person is wearing all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device in violation of division (b)(2) of this section shall not be considered or used by the trier of fact in a tort action as evidence of negligence or contributory negligence. But, the trier of fact may determine based on evidence admitted consistent with the Ohio Rules of Evidence that the failure contributed to the harm alleged in the tort action and may diminish a recovery of compensatory damages that represents non-economic loss, as defined in Ohio R.C. 2307.011, in a tort action that could have been recovered but for the plaintiff’s failure to wear all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device. Evidence of that failure shall not be used as a basis for a criminal prosecution of the person other than a prosecution for a violation of this section; and shall not be admissible as evidence in a criminal action involving the person other than a prosecution for a violation of this section.
      (2)   If, at the time of an accident involving a passenger car equipped with occupant restraining devices, any occupant of the passenger car who sustained injury or death was not wearing an available occupant restraining device, was not wearing all of the available elements of such a device, or was not wearing such a device as properly adjusted, then, consistent with the Rules of Evidence, the fact that the occupant was not wearing the available occupant restraining device, was not wearing all of the available elements of such a device, or was not wearing such a device as properly adjusted is admissible in evidence in relation to any claim for relief in a tort action to the extent that the claim for relief satisfies all of the following:
         A.   It seeks to recover damages for injury or death to the occupant;
         B.   The defendant in question is the manufacturer, designer, distributor, or seller of the passenger car;
         C.   The claim for relief against the defendant in question is that the injury or death sustained by the occupant was enhanced or aggravated by some design defect in the passenger car or that the passenger car was not crashworthy.
   (g)   Penalty.
      (1)   Whoever violates division (b)(1) of this section shall be fined thirty dollars ($30.00).
      (2)   Whoever violates division (b)(2) of this section shall be subject to the penalty set forth in Section 408.02.
      (3)   Whoever violates division (b)(3) of this section shall be fined twenty dollars ($20.00).
      (4)   Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates division (b)(4) of this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of division (b)(4) of this section, whoever violates division (b)(4) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.
(ORC 4513.263)