Car seat laws

Car seat laws

Safety Keep your child safe! It’s the law!

Less than 2 years old If your child is less than 2 years old, she must sit in a car seat that faces the REAR of the car.

Taller or heavier But if your child is 40 inches tall or more or weighs 40 pounds or more, she does not have to face the rear of the car.

Safer! Riding in a rear-facing seat is 5 times safer than riding in a forward-facing seat.

Infant seat? Most children will outgrow an infant seat before age 1.

Next step After your child has outgrown her infant seat, she will need a convertible car seat.

Children under age 8 Your child must be buckled into a car seat or booster in the back seat.

Children age 8 or older If your child is 8 or older, or is 4’9” or taller, she may use the vehicle seatbelt if it fits well. The lap belt must be low on her hips and touch her upper thighs. The shoulder belt must cross the center of her chest.

Not tall enough? If your child is not tall enough, her seatbelt may not fit well. If not, she will need to ride in a booster or car seat.

Car seat manufacturers The company that manufactures a car seat will suggest the greatest weight or greatest height the child using that car seat can be.

Pediatricians’ recommendation The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ride rear-facing until they are too tall or heavy for their car seats.

Everyone All babies, children and adults must be properly buckled up.

Fines and penalties If children under 16 are not properly secured, parents or other drivers can be fined more than $500 for each child.

Questions? If you have questions about car seat safety, call the California Department of Public Health Injury and Violence Prevention (IVP) Branch at (916) 552-9800 0r visit

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