What is the Law in California Regarding Child Car Seats?

August 16, 2022 - 9:11 am - 3 min read

California Car Seat Laws Overview

In California, it is mandatory for all children under the age of 8 to be secured in a child safety seat or booster seat in the back seat of a vehicle. The law is intended to protect children from serious injuries or death in the event of a car accident. The California Child Passenger Safety Law, also known as the “Buckle Up, California!” campaign, is enforced by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and local law enforcement agencies. The law is also designed to educate parents and caregivers on the importance of child safety seats and the proper use of them.

When to Use a Rear-Facing Car Seat

California law requires that infants and toddlers under the age of two use a rear-facing car seat until they reach a specific weight or height limit set by the car seat manufacturer. Most infant car seats can be used for infants weighing up to 35 pounds. Children over two years old can use a forward-facing car seat if they have outgrown their rear-facing car seat.

When to Use a Forward-Facing Car Seat

Children between the ages of two and four that weigh between 20 and 65 pounds or are less than 4 feet, 9 inches tall, must use a forward-facing car seat. Booster seats are also an option for children over the age of four that weigh between 40 and 100 pounds or are less than 4 feet, 9 inches tall.

When to Use a Booster Seat

Booster seats raise the height of a child in the car seat, allowing the seat belt to fit properly across the child’s chest and lap. Children under the age of eight that are over 4 feet, 9 inches tall or weigh more than 80 pounds can use a regular seat belt without a booster seat.

Penalties for Non-Compliance with Child Car Seat Laws

Violations of California’s child safety seat laws can result in a fine of up to $500 and the addition of a point to the driver’s record. The traffic violation can also impact the driver’s insurance rates and result in increased premiums.


In conclusion, California car seat laws are designed to protect children from serious injuries or death in the event of a car accident. Parents and caregivers must follow these laws to ensure the safety of their children when traveling by car. California law enforcement agencies and the CHP are committed to enforcing these laws and ensuring that drivers are following the appropriate safety guidelines. By doing so, parents and caregivers can help prevent accidents and injuries, ultimately saving lives.


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