When it comes to driving with her baby, Britney Spears just can't get it right.
After causing an international uproar by driving with her infant unsecured in her lap, Spears, sporting curlers in her hair, was snapped driving in Malibu with the baby strapped in the back seat -- but facing the wrong way.
Babies under 20 pounds or less than a year old should have their car seats facing backward, according to California motor-vehicle codes, and 8-month-old Sean Preston is facing forward as Spears rolls along in her Mini Cooper with its top down.
"The seat is facing the wrong way. We like it when the child's head is facing back," said California Highway Patrol spokesman Tom Marshall.
Since CHiP officers didn't actually witness Spears driving with Sean facing the wrong way, they won't consider citing her. CHiP is also unlikely to file a report with L.A. County social workers, Marshall said, despite earlier parental missteps by Spears.
Spears sparked universal scorn from advocates and experts when photographers captured her driving with Sean in her lap with no restraints at all when he was only a few months old.
Then, just last month, Sean's highchair collapsed, leaving him with a bump on his head. Spears took him to a doctor, who deemed the fall an accident but was obligated by state laws to call social workers.
Child advocates inspected Spears' home in Malibu and cleared her of any wrongdoing.
A lawyer for Spears insisted Monday that the pop princess didn't violate either the letter or spirit of California child-safety-seat laws in the latest flap.
"There is no law in California requiring rear-facing car seats," mouthpiece Martin Singer said.
"Britney Spears was in total compliance with California law with the forward-facing child-safety car seat with the baby strapped in properly in the back of the car."
A representative with L.A. County's child-welfare agency could not be immediately reached.
A child safety-seat violation costs $371 -- a fine that would double on each repeat offense -- but Spears could have even escaped this penalty, due to a loophole in Golden State codes.
California mandates that parents install child-safety seats in their cars in accordance to national standards. But CHiP spokesman Marshall said the federal guidelines only "strongly suggest" that kids ride in backward-facing seats if they're younger than 12 months or weigh less than 20 pounds.
"If this were a traffic stop, it would be up to an officer's discretion whether to give out a citation or a verbal lecture," Marshall said. "In other words, if they stop you and realize you were unaware and are able to correct the situation, then they might let you off with a verbal warning and not a citation."
A CHiP expert on car seats said countless studies and simulated crashes show that smaller kids benefit from a rear-facing position.
"It's more beneficial for a smaller child, who doesn't have as much control of their body as an older child, to be rear-facing," said CHiP Officer Sheri Jones, who specializes in car-seat safety.