Car seats and seat belts save lives.
You’ve probably heard this a million times.
However, it is true. And this is why, in the State of Maine, adults and children alike are required to wear these safety restraints.
Now, if you’re not sure about the Maine car seat laws, or even the seat belt laws — don’t worry.
Today, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about them. We’ll first state the laws, then we’ll go to the exceptions, the penalties, and how to properly use each of these.
So let’s buckle up and go!
Car Seat Laws in Maine
In Maine, specific types of car seats are required depending on the weight, height, and age of the child. Let’s look at this:
- Children weighing below 40 pounds: rear-facing car seat
- Children weighing 40-80 pounds and are younger than 8 years old: front-facing car seat
- Children 8-12 years old that weigh less than 100 pounds: federally-approved booster seat
- Children 8-12 years old that are taller than 4 feet 9 inches: can use seat belts if comfortable. If not, they should be properly secured by a federally-approved booster seat
Despite these laws, Maine recommends that you keep your children in a car seat until the maximum weight and age recommended by your car seat’s manufacturer.
What’s more, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also gave additional recommendations on car seats:
- Children below 1-year-old: rear-facing car seat
- Children 1-3 years old: rear-facing car seat except if they already exceed the age and weight requirements by the car seat’s manufacturer
- Children 4-7 years old: front-facing car seat with a harness
- Children 8-12 years old: booster seat until they are tall enough to wear a seat belt properly
Car Seat Exceptions in Maine
Your child is exempted to be in a car seat if they have a medical condition that requires a different type of restraint system. However, for the child to be exempted, you should show proof that a physician, nurse practitioner, or child passenger safety technician recommended this due to a medical condition.
Always have your written proof with you in case you are stopped by a traffic enforcer.
Car Seat Penalties in Maine
Violations of the car seat law, also known as the Child Passenger Safety (CPS) law, will incur a traffic infraction with the following penalties:
- First offense: $50 fine
- Second offense: $125 fine
- Third and subsequent offenses: $250 fine
But an even worse penalty is if something happens to your child due to not wearing a safety restraint.
How to Properly Install Car Seats
It’s one thing to put your child in a car seat — it’s quite another to make sure that it is properly installed for complete protection.
This is why, in this section, we’ll quickly go through how to properly install a car seat.
Now, when installing a car seat, always make sure to follow the instructions indicated in the manufacturer’s guide. But if you need additional guidance, here are some tips:
- Never install a car seat in the passenger seat.
- Never install a rear-facing seat front-facing or vice versa.
- Do not make your child wear bulky clothing when testing if they fit the harness. This is because, once they change to thin clothes, the harness might not be as snug anymore.
- Either use a seat belt or the lower anchors of the car seat to secure it to the vehicle’s seats. Do not use both.
- Press the car seat down until you can’t move it more than one inch from side to side.
- Place your child in the middle of the car seat. Make sure their head is not exceeding the car seat.
Seat Belt Laws in Maine
Unlike the Maine car seat laws, the seat belt law is very simple…
“All passengers and drivers are required to properly wear seat belts on a moving vehicle.”
Exemptions are only for the following:
- Those who have a medical condition and cannot wear seat belts, as stated by a physician or nurse practitioner in writing.
- Rural mail carriers while delivering mail.
- A newspaper delivery employee while engaged in the distribution of newspapers that requires them to go inside and outside their vehicle often.
In addition, drivers of vehicles used to transport people for a fee are not responsible for placing seat belts on their passengers.
Seat Belt Penalties in Maine
The seat belt penalties are the same as the car seat penalties.
So those who do not wear their seat belts (unless exempted by law) will face the following:
- First offense: $50
- Second offense: $125
- Third and subsequent offenses: $250
How to Properly Wear Seat Belts
The law clearly states that you must wear your seat belt PROPERLY.
This is because, for a seatbelt to be effective, it should be worn how it should be worn. If you only have one belt (and not two) strapped to your body, it reduces the safety it can give you.
With that in mind, here is how to wear a seat belt properly:
- Place the lap belt over your pelvis. Make sure that it’s snug.
- Place the shoulder belt across your shoulders. It should be on top of your chest and shoulders.
- Do not put the shoulder belt behind your head.
- Do not put your arm over the shoulder belt that the belt is placed under your chest.
Moreover, even if your car is stopped at a traffic light or by a stop sign, do not remove your seat belt. As long as you’re not safely parked, do not remove it.
Importance of Safety Restraints
But why all this focus on car seats and seat belts?
Other than the obvious reason that safety restraints help you stay in place whenever there is a collision, here are some things that make wearing safety restraints crucial:
- You don’t get a traffic infraction.
- You avoid hitting the airbag directly.
- You avoid injuries from hitting the inside of the car.
- The seatbelt prevents your body from being pushed toward the windshield, steering wheel, or dashboard.
Besides avoiding paying fines, all the benefits of wearing a safety restraint involve saving one life or another. Even if you think that you’re driving carefully or very slowly, you can’t say the same for other drivers.
So to be extra careful, always put a safety restraint on you and your child.
It will save lives.
And that was all you needed to know about the Maine car seat and seat belt laws.
Now that you know these laws, there’s only one thing left to do — and that is making sure that you obey them at all times.
Remember, these laws are there for your own good. Don’t feel like it’s a burden to buy different car seats as your child grows, or to simply buckle up whenever you get inside a car.
Always choose to be a safe and responsible parent and driver!