If my seven-year-old is not tall enough or heavy enough to ride in a car without some sort of child safety seat, then your four-year-old requires one too. If my four-year-old, who is taller than 99% of her classmates (including your child), requires some sort of child safety seat, then yours does too.
In basic terms:
- Children must be in a car seat until they reach age 4 and 40 pounds, and in a booster seat until they reach age 8, more than 80 pounds in weight, or more than 4ft. 9in. tall.
- Tiered structure applies:
- Less than 1 year old, or less than 20 lbs. must be in a rear-facing child seat in the back seat (if so equipped)
- If at least one year old and 20 pounds, but less than four years old or less than 40 pounds, must be a in a forward- or rear-facing child seat in the back seat (if so equipped)
- Age 4 to age 8, and between 40-80 lbs., and no more than 4 ft. 9 in. must be in a forward- or rear-facing child seat in the back seat (if so equipped) or a booster seat
- Penalty for non-compliance depends on the age of the child
- If less than four years of age, the total penalty is $175.30
- If between ages 4 and 8, the total penalty is $150.10 for the first offense, $200.50 for a second offense, and $263.50 for third and subsequent offenses
- There are no exemptions from these rules allowing removal of a child from a restraint to attend to personal needs (such as feeding or diapering)
- A child who, because of a medical condition, body size or a physical disability, is incapable of being transported in a child safety restraint system, may be transported without a safety restraint system with physician approval.
There are car seats out there that will meet the requirements and will cost less than the penalty for non-compliance. Yes, Ms. Middle Class, with your nice car, I’m talking to you too.