Car seat and child restraint laws can be confusing because they vary depending on both the child's age and sometimes her weight or height. New York state requires some form of child seat until the child turns 8, and there are specific requirements for type depending on the age of the child. If you aren't sure what's required, or you're not sure how to install the seat in your car, there are child safety seat fitting stations across New York where you can get help.
New York requires all children to be in some form of child restraint system until they turn 8 years old when they are riding in any motor vehicle. Booster seats are required after turning age 4 and can be used for 3-year-olds who weigh more than 40 pounds.
Size of Child
Children under 40 pounds should be in a toddler car seat that is secured to the seat of the automobile by a seat belt or LATCH system (universal child restraint anchorage). Children between 40 and 100 pounds should use booster seats that use the car's lap and shoulder belt. If a child weighs more than 100 pounds or is taller than 4 foot 9 inches, he can use a regular car lap and shoulder belt.
Car Seat vs. Booster Seat
A car seat is for 1- to 3-year old kids and is held in place by the car's seat belt. The child is held in the car seat by a separate restraint harness that is built into the car seat. A booster seat, for children ages 4 through 8, repositions the car's shoulder and lap belt and raises the child up in the car. If the car's lap and shoulder belt go across in front of the the child, the seat is considered a booster seat.
Booster seats require a lap and shoulder belt. If the seat has just a lap belt, it will not properly restrain a child in a booster seat and the booster seat should be moved to a location in the car that has both a shoulder and lap belt combination.
A booster seat should be used in the back seat of the car only, not in the front seat.
In New York state, the driver of a car carrying a child that is not properly restrained can be fined between $25 and $100 and have three points added on his driving record.
Built-in Safety Seats
If your car has a built-in safety seat that folds out from beneath the cushions of the regular seat, consult the car manufacturer's specifications for weight and height of the child. In order for it to be legal for a child in New York state, it must meet the federal requirements for size and weight.
When riding in a car in New York, any child under the age of 16 must wear a seat belt, if they are too old or too large to be required to be in a booster seat.
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