California Car Seat Laws – Everything You Should Know

California Car Seat Laws - Everything You Should Know

When it comes to seatbelts and car seats, some people could care less about wearing them. 

This is why, in California, seatbelts and car seats are now mandatory. 

And this is why, in this article, we’re going to talk about the California car seat laws. We’ll talk about:

  • Basic seatbelt laws
  • How to properly wear a seatbelt
  • Car seat laws for children
  • Penalties for breaking these laws

Plus, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

With this, you’ll know everything you should know to keep safe at all times. 

So buckle up and let’s jump right in!

Seatbelt Laws in California 

Car seat laws in California

Everyone in a vehicle is required by law to wear seatbelts while moving. Yes, even if you’re in the back seat.

And yes, even if it’s just a 5 minute drive. 

Another thing you should know about seatbelt laws in California is that it is a primary law. 

This means that a traffic enforcer can stop you and give you a violation if you’re spotted not wearing a seatbelt. 

You might be wondering why seatbelts are so important. 

Well, for one, it puts you in a better position to control your vehicle if anything happens. 

And second, since it straps you in place, it can keep you and your passengers from serious injuries. 

So there’s no excuse to not wear one. 

How to Properly Use Your Seatbelt

People find ways to get around the seatbelt law. But that is going against the point.

If you want to ensure safety, here is the proper way to use your seatbelt:

  • You must wear the shoulder harness across your shoulder and chest. It’s unsafe to wear the harness under your arms or behind your back.
  • The lap belt should lie low across your hips. Adjust it accordingly so it is snug.
  • For pregnant women, it is advised to wear the lap belt as low as possible and under your abdomen. The shoulder strap should be placed between your breasts and to the side of the bulge of your abdomen.

Car Seat Laws in California

When it comes to vehicle collisions or accidents, children are the most vulnerable. 

This is why the state mandated car seat laws for children. 

These car seat laws vary, depending on the height and age of a child. Let’s take a look.

California Rear-Facing Car Seat 

Children under 2 years old must be secured in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system. This applies if the child weighs no more than 40 pounds and is less than 3ft’4in tall. 

It’s important to note that children in this restraint system shouldn’t ride in the front seat of an airbag-equipped vehicle.

California Front-Facing Car Seat 

Children who are 3 years old or older and exceed the rear-facing child passenger restraint system’s weight and height limitations, can switch to a front-facing car seat. 

California Booster Seat 

When your child exceeds the front-facing child passenger restraint system’s weight and height limitations, you may now switch to the booster seat. Check your front-facing car seat for weight and height limitations. 

California Safety Belt 

Children who are 8 years old or older (or at least 4ft’9in tall) may use a properly secured safety belt. Just make sure that the safety belt meets federal standards. 

The installation can be checked by your local law enforcement agency or fire department.

Penalties for Breaking Seatbelt/Car Seat Laws in California

As seatbelt/car seat laws are primary laws, you will face penalties if you break them. 

For seatbelt laws, you’ll need to pay a minimum fine of $20. You’ll be fined $50 the next time you break this law. 

As for the overall amount, including total fees and penalty assessments, it could reach around $162. 

Since you are responsible for your child’s safety, you’ll need to pay even more for breaking car seat laws. Your total fine could end up at $490. 

We tell you, the fines aren’t cheap.

So you might as well avoid it by wearing your seatbelt and securing your child in their car seat. 

But the biggest penalty of all is if you get into an accident and face serious injuries, or worse, deaths. 

Don’t risk it!


As promised, we’re going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about seatbelt and car seat laws in California. 

Are there any car seat law exceptions in California?

Yes, there are a few exceptions to car seat laws in California. These are:

  • If the court permitted you to not use a car seat due to your child’s size or health condition. 
  • If the child is being transported during an emergency or in an authorized emergency vehicle
  • Is there are no rear seats available 
  • If you cannot properly install a car seat in your vehicle 
  • If the back seats are occupied by younger children

Will breaking the seatbelt law in California impact my driving record?

Seatbelt laws in California are considered non-moving violations. Therefore, you won’t get any points on your driving record.

But when it comes to breaking car seat laws, that is a more serious issue, so you’ll be given 1 demerit point to your California driving record.

Will breaking the seatbelt law impact my insurance in California?

Seatbelt tickets won’t affect your insurance. That said, your insurance company may notice the number of seatbelt tickets you’ve received. From there, they could change your insurance premiums. 

Plus, your credit score can go down if you don’t pay your fine immediately. This will also increase your insurance premiums. 

So though it doesn’t affect directly, it can still be affected. 


And there you have it!

Now that you’ve been given insight on seatbelt and car seat laws in California, the next thing to do is…


Doing so is more than just avoiding a ticket, a big fine, or high insurance premiums. 

Doing so can save lives. 

Who wants to put their lives at risk?

More importantly, who wants to put their children’s lives at risk? 

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