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NJ Child Car Seat Law: Be Safe and Legal

Last updated on August 16th, 2017 at 04:54 pm

Between weight limits, height requirements and age guidelines, it can be confusing to keep your child safe (and legal) when they’re riding in your car. For how long should the child’s seat be rear-facing? When do you switch to a booster seat? What if your car doesn’t have a back seat?

The NJ child car seat law — effective September 1, 2015 — has specific stipulations for securing children who are younger than 8 and less than 57 inches tall. Here’s how you can be safe and legal when young children are riding in your car, according to the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety:

  • Children younger than 2 and under 30 pounds must ride in the rear seat of a car in a rear-facing car seat equipped with a 5-point harness.
  • Children younger than 4 and under 40 pounds need to be fastened in the rear seat of a car in a rear-facing car seat equipped with a 5-point harness until they outgrow the top height or weight recommendations made by the car seat manufacturer. After that, children should be secured in the rear seat in a forward-facing child restraint equipped with a 5-point harness.
  • Children younger than 8 and under 57 inches tall shall be secured in the rear seat of a car in forward-facing car seat equipped with a 5-point harness until the child outgrows the top height or top weight recommendations made by the car seat manufacturer. After that, they can be placed in the rear seat in a booster seat.
  • Children older than 8 or more than 57 inches tall must be properly secured by a seat belt.

According to Carseatsexperts.com, It’s OK if your car doesn’t have rear seats, but there are a few things to keep in mind: children can ride in the front seat of a car in a car seat or booster seat. However, your vehicle’s passenger-side airbag must be shut off if the child is using a rear-facing car seat in the front seat.

There are fines for not following the NJ child car seat law, which can range between $50 and $75.

There are local resources to check if your child’s car seat is installed properly – and it may not be. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates half of child safety seats are incorrectly used.

Plymouth Rock in NJ wants to know what’s your experience with keeping young children safe while riding in a car? Share it and get the conversation started.

3 thoughts on “NJ Child Car Seat Law: Be Safe and Legal

  1. The hard part of this law,I had to dig out my old car seat. My daughter is 6 1/2, can get out of her 5pt harness and this makes it completely unsafe. I have had to countless pull over and put her back in which resorts to all of us being unsafe. She is not understanding this change after 2 and half years of being in a booster and its not very comfortable nor safe at this point. She is 70lb and they don’t make 5pt harness that fits the crotch area very well. I understand the significance of the law, but I am going to go to the police and ask them what to do, because Its so unbelievably ridiculous the fights we are having over a seat.

    On another note, this car seat “expires” within a few months, and I will NOT be buying another $100-200 car seat. So then what do you do? Go back to the booster? or continue to force the issue. Some battles are worth the fight tho…

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