Last Updated on January 2, 2024

What Are the Child Safety & Booster Seat Laws in New York?

Child safety seats are not just a legal requirement; they are lifelines that have significantly reduced the risk of injury in vehicular accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2021, 711 children aged 12 and younger were tragically killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. 

Many of these children, about 36%, were not using seat belts, showing how important it is to use child safety seats correctly. The CDC points out that using car seats can lower the chance of getting hurt in car accidents by 71-82% for kids, more than just wearing seat belts. 

Child Safety & Booster Seat Laws in New York 

Children must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system that meets their size and weight specifications until they reach the age of 8. This includes rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seats.

  • Rear-Facing Seats: New York law mandates that all infants ride in rear-facing seats until they reach the age of 2 or the height and weight limits specified by the seat's manufacturer.
  • Forward-Facing Seats: Once children outgrow their rear-facing seat, they must transition to a forward-facing seat with a harness, suitable for their height and weight, until they outgrow it as well.
  • Booster Seats: After outgrowing forward-facing seats, children must use a booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall.

1. Rear-Facing Car Seat Regulations

Infants and toddlers under the age of two must be secured in a rear-facing car seat. This is in accordance with New York State’s Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1229-c, which mandates that all back seat passengers under four years old must be restrained in a seat that meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. 

2. Forward-Facing Car Seat Requirements

For children over two years old or those who have outgrown their rear-facing seats, New York law requires the use of a forward-facing car seat. This is in line with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213, which provides the guidelines for child restraint systems. 

The law states that children under the age of four must be secured in a system that is appropriate for their height and weight. If a child's weight exceeds 40 pounds, they may be secured with a lap safety belt if no shoulder harness is available.

3. Booster Seat Obligations

When children reach the age of four and until they turn eight, New York State law requires the use of a booster seat. This is to ensure that the vehicle's seat belts fit properly and provide the necessary protection. The booster seat must be used with both a lap and shoulder belt, providing a transition from a child safety seat to the regular vehicle seat belt.

Unique Things About New York

New York mandates that all children under the age of 8 must be properly restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat, which is a regulation that varies in age requirement across the country.

Special Provisions for Taxis, Buses, Subways, and Ridesharing

New York's laws account for the diverse modes of transportation within the state. While taxis and ridesharing vehicles are required to comply with child safety seat laws, there are exceptions for buses and subways, where safety restraints are not typically used. However, it's important to note that for taxis and livery vehicles, as of November 1, 2017, the driver and each front seat passenger aged 16 or older must wear a seat belt.

Using Second-Hand or Expired Car Seats

Car seats are subject to expiration dates, usually six years after manufacture, due to the degradation of materials over time. Using a car seat past this date, or one that has been involved in a significant crash, can not only compromise a child's safety but also lead to legal consequences if it's determined that the seat did not provide adequate protection in the event of an accident.

Exemptions and Special Circumstances

New York State's occupant restraint law does not apply universally; there are specific exemptions. For example, seat belt use is not required in emergency vehicles, vehicles manufactured before 1965, or by passengers in buses (except school buses, where seat belt use may be required by the school district). Additionally, rural letter carriers are exempt from seat belt use while delivering mail.

Penalties for Not Complying Child Seat Laws in New York

  • A fine ranging from $25 to $100 for violations concerning child safety restraint requirements.
  • In addition to the fine, a surcharge may be levied.
  • The driver will also incur 3 points on their driver’s license, which can have long-term implications for driving privileges and insurance premiums.

The enforcement of these laws serves a dual purpose: it penalizes non-compliance and, more importantly, it educates drivers on the importance of child safety in vehicles.

In the unfortunate event of an accident, legal representation can be crucial in navigating the complexities of the law and ensuring a fair outcome. If you or your loved ones find yourselves facing legal challenges resulting from a car accident involving child safety seats, know that you are not alone.

The Porter Law Group is committed to providing expert guidance without upfront fees, working on a contingency basis and offering free consultations to help secure the compensation you deserve. Reach out at 833-PORTER9 or via email at info@porterlawteam.com.

Written By
Michael S. Porter
Personal Injury Attorney
Originally from Upstate New York, Mike built a distinguished legal career after graduating from Harvard University and earning his juris doctor degree from Syracuse University College of Law. He served as a Captain in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, gaining expertise in trial work, and is now a respected trial attorney known for securing multiple million-dollar results for his clients while actively participating in legal organizations across Upstate NY.
Legally Reviewed on December 21, 2023
Eric C. Nordby
Personal Injury Attorney
Eric, with nearly three decades of experience in personal injury litigation, holds a law degree with honors from the University at Buffalo School of Law and a Bachelor's Degree from Cornell University. His extensive career encompasses diverse state and federal cases, resulting in substantial client recoveries, and he actively engages in legal associations while frequently lecturing on legal topics.
This Article Was Professionally Reviewed
This page was Legally Reviewed by Eric C. Nordby on December 21, 2023. Our experts verify everything you read to make sure it's up to date. For information on our content creation and review process read our editorial guidelines. If you notice an error or have any questions about our content please contact us.
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