Posted on Car Accident Law Blog / California Car Seat Regulations – Laws Protecting Children After an Auto Accident

Page Updated 12/19/2021

California Car Seat Regulations – Laws Protecting Children After an Auto Accident


In California, there are car seat regulations in place to protect children after an accident. These are car seat regulations are based on the child’s age and weight.

Children who are younger than two years old must ride in a rear-facing car seat. Under the California car seat law, rear-facing car seats are not required for all ages.

Children who are between the ages of two and four must ride in a forward-facing car seat or approved booster seat that is sturdy. If a five or six-year-old is placed in the front seat of an automobile with an airbag, they might be catastrophically injured by the inflatable device.

Contact Los Angeles, California car accident attorneys, or keep reading if your hate your current personal injury attorney and want to switch.

The California Highway Patrol may be reached for assistance in obtaining a child car seat or booster seat. The CHP can forward people to their child passenger safety technician for aid.

The California Department of Public Health recently received a $495,000 grant to teach 450 new technicians and update 2,000 existing technicians on the best methods for installing and using child restraint systems for certain back seat occupants to help in case of car accidents.

Manufacturers create child safety seats (Child Restraint System / Child Passenger Restraint System) with the intention of keeping your children comfortable and safe during trips in the car. They provide extra protection and might be life-saving should something unexpected happen.

Always keep in mind that you must follow California’s vehicle seat laws while transporting your children in the car. Following the California booster seat laws and other car seat laws is a must for every parent. If you aren’t aware of them, now is the time to learn more.

This blog post will tell you what you need to know about car safety seats, as well as a lot more. Aside from learning more about the laws, you’ll learn additional facts regarding car seats in this article.

If you want to find out everything there is to know about child safety seats, front-facing car seats in a car accident, and more, please read on.

What Are the Car Seat Laws in California?

California’s child safety seat laws vary depending on your kid’s age and how much he or she has developed. First, you have laws that dictate how children under the age of two should be seated in a vehicle.

In California, it is required by law that children under the age of two be kept in a rear-facing car seat. When placing your child in rear-facing seats, make sure you’re adhering to the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements for your rear seat passenger. (If using a passenger seat like side-facing jump seats, make sure they are legal) Forward-facing seats are preferred for more grown kids, as will be discussed.

Two Years and Younger

Although most children younger than two years old require rear-facing seats, not all youngsters under the age of two do. If your child is over thirty pounds or more than forty inches tall, he or she no longer has to use a rear-facing car seat.

In the back of your automobile, you should keep your kid using the rear-facing car seat, installed properly to the shoulder belt or lap belt. According to Carseat.org, if your vehicle has an active passenger airbag, you cannot put your child in the front-facing harness in the front seat, EVER. Just don’t let them ride in the front.

Even if your child has outgrown the rear-facing car seat, kid restraint systems are still necessary. You can start utilizing a forward-facing car seat in this next phase.

When Can Your Child Sit in Front? (Children Under Eight or Five Foot Nine Inches Tall)

Children under the age of eight or who are shorter than 4’9″ should be seated in a car seat while traveling, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

When your child reaches 65 pounds, you’ll hit another milestone. At that age, instead of a more severe forward-facing car seat, you may start using a booster seat in the automobile.

Booster seats are advised for parents until their children reach 4’9″ in height or are over eight years old. When they outgrow one of those ages

Children Vehicle Occupants Over Eight Years Of Age

Even though your child is well-grown, it’s still a good idea to use booster seats until they are 13 years old. Booster seats can be used in the front seat for kids who are 8 or older and taller than 4′ 9″ tall.

Safety TIP: It is against the law in California to leave children in cars when it is excessively hot outside. California Vehicle Code Section 15620 confirms it’s illegal to leave a kid under six in a car. A person who is at least 12 years old must be with a child under six. You may face fines and jail time if you break this legislation.

How Will I Know My Child Is Ready to Use a Safety Belt With No Booster Seat?

The removal of the booster seat from your car is probably going to be one of the most difficult steps you’ll take as a parent. It’s a major step, and it’s something you should give some thought to. In California, there is no specific statute covering when a kid should be transitioned from a five-point harness to a booster seat.

We’ve already stated that you may use the booster seat after your kid reaches eight years old or is taller than 4’9. But there are a few more things to consider before we urge you to exclusively utilize it.

After all, children grow at different paces, so height and weight limits must be taken into account before utilizing the booster.

To find out if your youngster is ready to use a seat belt on its own, you may perform the 5-step test.

The 5 Step Car Seat Law Test For Parents and Adult Guardians

  1. Legal guardians should begin by checking how your youngster sits up against the back of the front-facing seats. Is the child able to sit back in the front-facing seat whiled locked into the restrain system? If your child can’t sit back, it’s a clue their upper thighs are too short to avoid serious injuries in a car accident. (They should still be using a booster in the rear seats).
  2. Next, check to see if your child’s knees are in line with the seat of your vehicle. Your child’s knees should easily reach the edge of the seat and forward-facing harnesses. If your kid’s knees do not reach that point yet, consider using a booster seat with the lap and shoulder belts attached.
  3. You should pay attention to how the belt fits around your child’s body. Your kid’s seat belt should wrap both his/her neck and arm. If the seat belt is riding up too high on the side of your child’s face, he or she shouldn’t be using it alone. You also want to avoid putting the seatbelt in that way
  4. The position of the lap belt also indicates whether or not your youngster should stop using a booster. The lap belt should be positioned low on the body and make contact with the thighs. Lap belts that ride up too high can irritate your child’s stomach and cause discomfort.
  5. Last, consider whether your child still requires a rear-facing seat or booster seat based on his/her level of comfort. The seat belt may be correctly positioned, but your child may not yet be entirely at ease with it. Instead of taking the chance that your youngster will play around with the seat belt, keep him/her in a booster for now.

TIP: Convertible car seats for your child to sit in growth stages. As small children grow, these make it simpler and more cost-effective to guarantee that newborns and toddlers are safe throughout various growth stages while properly restrained.

You can move your child to a front-facing car seat as your child grows out of the upper height and weight limits for a rear-facing seat and reaches at least two years old.

Are There Any Exceptions Regarding Car Seat Laws in California?

Always try to comply with the requirements established by California’s child car seat laws. However, there are exceptions in place if your car or the car seat you want to install has an issue. The key is making sure kids are safe to mitigate their damages, even if there is a personal injury suit over the car accident, despite their weight or height limit.

Older cars’ components wear down with time, and some of them may no longer perform as intended.

The shoulder component of the seat belt, for example, may cease to function after many years of use. In that situation, your kid can still sit in the back wearing only the lap part of the seat belt while weighing more than forty pounds in the Golden State.

You may also have a kid under the age of eight sit in the front of the vehicle if you can’t properly install a car seat or if younger children have occupied the back seats. A child under the age of eight can sit in the front of the automobile for medical reasons.

If you must put your youngster in the front seat, be sure to deactivate any airbags first. Airbags are a life-saving feature for people with bigger bodies, but they may cause significant bodily harm if deployed against a child’s body.

California law requires that children be placed in car seats using the correct position and size, which means you should follow all instructions provided by the state when it comes to automobile seats. However, be aware that there are concessions available in certain cases.

How Does California Punish Car Seat Law Violators?

Failing to follow the state car seat laws puts your children in danger needlessly. You should do everything you can to comply with these rules. It’s understandable why you’d want to protect your child from harm, but if you need some more incentive, read about the fines you might face.

People found violating the car seat laws will be given a ticket. A single ticket may cost you around $500, and that is only for one child. You will obviously have to pay more if multiple children in your vehicle are not inappropriate harnesses.

If you are caught violating the automobile seat laws a second time, your fines will be doubled. For not purchasing a car seat that costs approximately $200, you may be fined $1,000.

The state will add points to your driving record in addition to the penalties you’ll incur. If you accumulate a lot of points, it will be difficult to obtain car insurance at a fair price.

Although keeping your youngster secure should always be the most important reason you utilize car seats, there’s also a financial incentive to do so.

If you were in the vehicle when your youngster was discovered not using an appropriate seat belt, the ticket or tickets will be given to you if you were present. This regulation is in force until your child reaches the age of sixteen years old.

If the parent of the kid was not in the vehicle at the time, the driver will be penalized.

What Car Seats Are Vital To Child Safety While Driving?

Many new parents would rather be away from their children. They want to spend every waking hour with their infants, which is why they want to go traveling with them as well. It’s natural for you to desire to spend the day with your kids, but the fact is that travel is a danger for them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, passenger cars are the leading cause of fatal injuries in children.

In 2017, almost 116,000 youngsters under the age of twelve were hurt in automobile crashes. Approximately 675 of the children died as a result of their injuries. According to the CDC, 35 percent of the kids who perished as a consequence of their injuries were not wearing safety seats or belts.

The statistics are enormous, and what’s more, we have the power to change them. Consider how much safer automobile seats make you and your family when compared to merely using a seat belt. When compared to utilizing only a seat belt, car seats decrease the chance of a kid being injured in an accident by as much as 82%.

A booster seat may actually be essential when it comes to keeping youngsters safe in vehicles. Children aged four to eight who use a booster seat had a 45% decreased risk of injury compared to those who used seat belts (Johnson, et al., 2019).

What Statistics Say About Using Child Safety Seats

The statistics above should explain why you need to invest in child safety seats. If you want additional reasons to wear those pieces of safety equipment, California State University Northridge has a summary of them.

It’s not enough to be cautious or drive defensively; your kid’s safety may still be at risk. Many of the accidents that result in child injuries occur on roads with speed limits up to 45 mph.

It is critical to gradually apply the brakes when learning how to drive a car. Slowing down too abruptly may also harm your youngster’s growing brain. Because a child’s physique is proportioned, their head is more prone to damage in the event of an accident. Safety seats aren’t entirely protective, but they do an excellent job of keeping the head

More Useful Safety Seat Tips

Aside from selecting the proper safety seat for your kid, there are a few things to consider while installing that vehicle equipment inside your car.

For one thing, you should make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely. If you don’t install it correctly, the car seat will be ineffective.

It’s also a good idea to replace the car seats if they are old or worn. If you must use a car seat that is too tiny for your child,

Finally, if your kid is still small enough to fit into the car seat despite growing older, feel free to use it. You will not be sorry if you err on the side of caution.

Schedule a Free Consultation To Discuss Booster Seat and Rear Facing Car Seat Regulations Today

Do you want to sue a manufacturer of the car, or car seat, for compensation after a car accident injury? Please contact the professional Ehline Law Firm’s team of specialists if you have any more questions regarding California’s vehicle safety laws.

We’d be delighted to answer your questions and address any legal issues, including medical bills, or pain and suffering you may have. In the meantime, always follow the state’s car seat regulations when you’re on the road.

It is recommended by our charismatic, compassionate legal team that you reach out 24/7, we are ready to assist you quickly and determined to be victorious on you and your loved one’s behalf at (213) 596-9642. Speak with a Los Angeles personal injury attorney risk free today.

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Los Angeles, CA 90071
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