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10-Year-Old Boy Ticketed For Improper Seat Belt Use

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AUSTIN (AP) - A “scared” 10-year-old Central Texas boy who stuck his head out the passenger’s seat window to get some fresh air says he was ticketed by police for improper seat belt usage after it slipped off.

Marshall May, a fourth-grader at Jim Plain Elementary School in Leander, just north of Austin, was on his way home in a minivan when he stuck his head out the window and his seat belt slipped, he said.

A Leander police officer pulled over the van that Marshall’s 19-year-old aunt, Ashley Arredondo, was driving and gave the boy a ticket after a brief discussion Tuesday.

“He said: ‘You were wearing your seat belt incorrectly. Sorry, but click it or ticket,”‘ Marshall said.

Apparently the child wasn’t properly wearing the belt because it wasn’t covering the top of his chest, said Marshall’s stepmother, Kristy May.

But Texas law states that the adult in the car is at fault when a child isn’t properly secured by a seat belt. Marshall’s aunt, however, was not ticketed.

Interim Leander City Manager Robert Powers told the Austin American-Statesman that the police officer just made a mistake but “it wasn’t anything egregious or malicious.”

The Police Department has taken procedural steps that may lead to the ticket’s dismissal but the municipal court must decide whether to actually dismiss it, Powers said.

“I was really scared,” Marshall said Thursday of the police stop. “He made me sign my signature, but I don’t have a signature because I’m 10 years old.”

The boy printed his full name instead.

“I thought it was a joke until I saw the actual ticket,” said Marshall’s father, Gabriel May. “I think they should drop it.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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