Seat belt violation fines have gone up in California. Again. The minimum fine for an adult is now $142. But that's not the half of it. The fine for children under the age of 16, however, is now $445 for a first time offense. No, the child won't be fined. Their piggy banks won't be broken by the traffic officer nor will their iPods or cell phones be taken away, although that might be fitting in some cases. But if the parent or guardian of the child is in the car, they will be the one to receive the citation and pay the fine. If they aren't in the car, the driver will be the one cited. Clearly, there is an increased effort being made by law enforcement to see that one's family members are protected against injury. Studies indicate a much higher rate and level of injury when drivers and passengers aren't belted in their seats. While California has a very high rate of seat belt use, the effort is to make that rate even higher. Of course the additional fees are needed as well in California since the State is suffering from a huge deficit. Unless you are willing to part with some serious cash, stay belted, my friends, and keep those kids of yours belted.