California Booster Seat Laws

Car Accidents,Injuries to Children | July 1, 2020

As an adult, your number one goal should be keeping any children in your car safe. Whether you are visiting scenic California on a family vacation or are a local getting your child to and from little league practice, then you need to understand how California’s child booster seat laws apply to you. California takes child safety very seriously when it comes to automobiles. Understanding the following laws will help you keep your child safe while also helping you avoid major fines for a violation.

Man driving children in car

What Does California Law Say about Booster Seats?

First, we need to clarify the difference between car seats and booster seats for the purposes of the law in California. Under California law, children under the age of 2 are supposed to ride in rear-facing car seats unless they weigh 40 pounds or more or if they are 40 or more inches tall. Children aged 2 to 8 will need to be in a forward-facing car seat.

A child will generally “graduate” from a car seat to a booster seat when they have outgrown the weight and height limits of a forward-facing car seat. This is typically when they reach 40 to 65 pounds. Safety advocates stress that there is no need to rush to get your child to a booster seat, as this will result in a reduction in the level of protection a child has in the event an accident occurs.

Booster seats are necessary because children over 40 or 65 pounds are still not ready to use adult seatbelts properly. A booster seat will position the child properly until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and between the ages of eight and 12 years old. Please keep in mind that car seatbelts are designed for a 165-pound male adult.

What are the Penalties for Violating California’s Booster Seat Laws?

Under California law, there is a $100 fine prescribed for the first offense for a child not being properly restrained in the vehicle. Second and subsequent offenses can result in a $250 fine. It is important to note that these are simply the basic fines associated with these violations. Actual fines are typically much higher, usually reaching $400 or more when fees and other penalties are added.

If a person is unable to pay a booster seat violation fine and the associated court fees, they could lose their driver’s license.

What About Contributory Negligence and Booster Seats?

Similar to seatbelt laws, just because your child was not in a booster seat at the time when an accident occurred does not mean that you cannot bring a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party involved. However, failing to follow the law could result in you being able to secure less compensation if your child was injured in the car accident. It will be up to a jury to decide whether or not your child’s injuries could have been prevented or reduced had they been properly fastened in the vehicle. If the jury determines that not wearing a booster seat contributed to an injury, they may not award any damages or may reduce the total damages for the case.