As per the State Transportation Agency of California, this region of the country has the most complicated and extensive transportation system. Therefore, you need to be well aware of the entire code for not only your better safety but your family as well.
The California car seat law also has specific points for child safety in vehicles. California law governs how many child car seats you need to have in your vehicle. It also tells you what is the best age, height, and weight requirements for each of these car seats.
In this guide, we will provide you with a brief but comprehensive overview of California car seat laws. Hence, you can secure your little one in a place on the road.
The Basics of Car Seat Law in California
As per the California Legislative Information, the children under 8 years of age have to be seated in the rear of your motor car. In addition to that, children have to be secured using proper restraining systems. These are according to their age, weight, height, and federal requirements.
Types of Child Seat Restraint Systems
Primarily, there are four different kinds of these systems. These are rear-facing seats, front-facing seats, booster seats, and seat belts.
Now, there are different sets of regulations that apply to different restraint systems. These guidelines become different with diverse factors. These include the weight, age, and height of the child who is going to use it.
Therefore, you have to decide what type of restraint system you are going to use for your children. And keep in mind the guidelines are provided in the car seat laws in California. These guidelines are directly influenced by the age, height, and weight of your child.
The Law for Rear-Facing Car Seats in California
Within the state of California, all children who are under the age of 2 have to be seated in the rear-facing car seat restraint system specifically designed for this age. This regulation is applicable as long as the child grows and weighs around 40 pounds at least. They need to be 40 inches tall as well.
And you must secure the child in the rear-facing seat. Just like the manufacturer of the car seat has described in the instructions. If your child has outgrown this age but still doesn’t weigh 40 pounds, you’ll have to use this restraint system. Such is the importance of weight restrictions in the car seat laws of California!
There are further three subcategories of rear-facing car seats.
Rear-facing only infant car seat
It is especially for infants and small babies and has a portable construction. You can only use it for rear-facing and most babies will outgrow this seat before they turn 1 year old.
With your child growing, the seat can change from rear to front-facing with its tether and harness. You can use it with children of different sizes and weights to use it with your kid for a longer period than just 1 year.
You can change this seat from a rear-facing car seat to front facing as well as a booster seat as your child continues to outgrow them. This design also allows you to use the seat for your kid for a longer period.
The Law for Front-facing Car Seats in California
Once your kid has outgrown 40 inches tall and 40 pounds in weight that are two of the primary requirements for a rear-facing car seat. It is a suitable choice for children under the age of 2 years. This is the time when you can start using the front-facing car seat.
However, you still need to install these car seats according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer. And the seat must be at the back of your vehicle. And of course, the seat needs to come with proper harness systems for a car seat.
This car seat also has three different kinds.
With your child growing you can alter this seat from a rear-facing car seat to a front-facing seat along with its tether and harness.
With your kid growing you can change this car seat from front-facing into a booster seat along with the tether and harness.
You can convert this seat from rear-facing to a front-facing seat into a booster seat as your kid grows.
California Booster Seat Laws
When your precious one has outgrown the height and weight requirements of front-facing car seats, it’s time for an upgrade. Now, you can use booster seats for your child instead of the front-facing seat.
Talking about the booster seats, the regular set of requirements to use a booster seat includes a weight limit of at least 65 pounds. And for this, you will have to consult the instructions manual provided by the car seat manufacturer as well.
There are four different types of booster seats as well.
With high back
This booster seat comes with a high back and helps in providing your child with proper back and head support.
This seat is to support your child’s height. It doesn’t come with a back so it won’t provide any head or neck support.
The combo booster seat can be altered from the front-facing seat to a booster seat with a harness.
These booster seats can be altered from rear to front-facing seat to a booster seat a lot with the tether and harness with your kid growing over time.
When your child outgrows the booster seat, it’s time to restrain him/her with a seatbelt that is on your car seat.
Car Seat Child Safety Belt Law in California
Once your child is 4 feet 9 inches tall and turns 8 years old, then s/he no longer needs a booster seat. You will only need to restraint them with the help of the seat belt system on the seat of your car.
But make sure you have tightly secured them and made the seat belt comfortable for your child to keep them secure during the ride without jeopardizing their comfort. You can also guide them on how to use this belt and make adjustments as per their requirements.
Car Seat Law Exceptions in California
However, these laws do not apply to the driver if a parent or legal guardian is present in the car along with the child passenger. These laws apply only to the children who are in the passenger seat with their parents or legal guardians.
Fees & Penalties for Car Seat Laws in California
According to the California Car Seat Law, the first offense under this rule is punishable with a fee of $100. Any subsequent offenses are all punishable by a fee of $250.
The Car Seat Law of California provides you with details on what are the requirements that you need to fulfill to use different types of these car seats according to the age, height, and weight of your child. Hence, the state of California has established a penalty system to make sure the masses continue to follow these rules diligently.
Can Children in California Sit in the Front Seat for Any Reason?
In California, all children must drive in the back seat according to the state’s car seat law. They have to follow this regulation until they are 8 years old. But even after that, you need to secure your children in the back seat of your car.
The restraint systems for all your children need to be installed in the back of your car if you want to drive in California with your children. This is so because the airbags installed in the front seat can put your child at immense risk in case of an accident.
And the California State Law regarding car seats is strict in this scenario to ensure child safety. It doesn’t recommend children to be in the front seat. You must follow this law until your child is at least 12 years old.
Leaving Your Child in Your Car in California
The state of California is among those where the daytime temperatures can rise significantly. Therefore, according to the car law in California, it is illegal to leave your children in cars to enforce child safety.
According to the Vehicle Code of California, no guardian or parent is allowed to leave a child under 6 inside a car. The children of this age need to be with someone who is around 12 years or more. If you violate this law, you will end up being fined for $100 as per the law.
Smoking with A Child in the Car in California
In California, no one can smoke inside a car with a minor. The person found guilty of it would be fined according to the laws in California. This is to ensure the child’s safety.
Taxi Car Seat Law in California
Under the CA car seat law, taxis are not exempt. But the first responsibility falls on the parent or legal guardians. If parents or legal guardians are not present, the cab driver will be held responsible under the law.
Requirements of Car Seat Replacement After an Accident
Car seat laws for California makes it mandatory for any insurance company to replace the car seats after a crash. And this condition is not dependent upon the factor of whether they were occupied or not.
These car seats handle a single-car crash and nothing more. Therefore, California child seat laws require you to replace them if such an incident has occurred. However, if the car crash was minor and the seat hasn’t sustained any damage, you can re-use it.
For any additional information in this regard or to determine how to properly install a car seat in your vehicle, or what type of restraint system is best for your child; you can visit the official website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Here is a video for you to properly set up a car seat for your kid.