When having a baby or a young child, you need to know what the car seat laws are in the state that you live in.
Alabama Car seat laws are always changing, and the changes can affect how long a child will have to stay in a car seat and what kind of car seat they will need.
This article will discuss the car seat laws and the penalties for not following these laws.
Alabama Child Restrain Law
According to the Alabama Child Restraint Law it says that every person that is transporting a child in a motor vehicle on a roadway, highway or street has to protect the child by providing them with protection such as a child restraint system.
The term “motor vehicle” includes:
- Pickup Trucks
- Sport Utility Vehicles
Types of Car Seats
There are four types of restraints that your child will need over the course of their lifetime including:
- Rear-facing Car Seat
- Forward Facing Car Seat
- Booster Seat
- Seat Belt
Rear-Facing Car Seat
A rear-facing car seat is needed for a child that is 2 years of age or younger unless your child reaches the manufacturer’s weight and height to change to the next car seat level.
To be in a rear-facing seat, your child should
- Be newborn to 2 years old.
- Between 35-50 pounds depending on the car seat (Most convertible rear-facing car seats go up to 50 pounds).
- Have their head no closer than 1 inch from the top of the car seat.
When you put your child in a rear-facing car seat, make sure that:
- The clip is at the middle of the child’s chest and level with the armpits.
- The straps need to be snug, at or below the shoulders and flat against the child’s body.
There are a few rules to follow with the rear-facing car seat such as:
- Do not put the rear-facing car seat in the front seat, always make sure that this car seat is put in the back seat.
- Do not put the rear-facing car seat in a forward-facing position.
- Do not put the rear-facing car seat in front of an active airbag.
- Make sure that the harness is snug around the child.
- Ensure that the harness clip is placed at the center of the chest and level with the child’s armpits.
- Use the anchor or LATCH system to secure the car seat in the vehicle.
Forward Facing Car Seat
Children that are at least 2 years or older can be switched to a forward-facing car seat. This is also allowed with children that have met the height and weight limit based on the manufacturer.
When considering a forward-facing car seat, your child should be:
- Between 2 years old and 3 years old.
- Between 20 and 50 pounds.
When choosing a forward-facing car seat, follow these tips:
- Make sure the child’s head is no higher than one inch from the top of the plastic shell of the car seat.
- Put the clips in the middle of the chest and make sure it is level with the armpits.
- Keep the straps flat against the child’s body and make sure they are snug and sit at or above the child’s shoulders.
There are a few rules to follow with the front-facing car seat such as:
- Always make sure the car seat is in the back seat and never put in the front seat.
- Do not put the front-facing car seat in front of an active airbag.
- Ensure that the car seat is secured by using the LATCH or the anchor system to secure the seat.
- Make sure that the harness is snug and at the center of the chest and level with the child’s armpits.
Children that are above the height and weight limit for the front-facing car seat can use a belt-positioning booster seat.
If you are considering purchasing a booster, your child should be:
- Between the ages of 8-12 years old.
- Over 50 pounds.
When using a booster, follow these tips:
- Make sure the seat belt sits across the child’s chest and is not touching or laying on the neck.
- The lap belt needs to be across the upper thighs and low on the hip area.
There are a few rules to follow with the booster seat such as:
- All children should sit in a booster seat until they are 4 feet and 9 inches tall and are between the ages of 8-12 years old.
- The booster should be used until the seat belt in the vehicle fits the child properly.
- The belt-positioning booster seat needs to be used with the lap belt and the shoulder belt.
- The lap belt should be positioned across the upper thighs.
- The shoulder belt should be positioned across the child’s chest.
- If the vehicle has a low seat, try to use a high back booster for the best protection.
- If the child’s ears are below the top of the seat when in their booster, then you can use a low back booster seat.
- The child should stay in the booster until their feet can touch the floor with their back against the seat and their knees bent.
- The booster seat raises the child in the right position to give them the maximum protection.
Children Seat Belt
Children should be in a seat belt after leaving the booster seat. This is important from the time that the child graduates from the booster seat through adult hood.
There are a few rules to follow with the seat belt such as:
- The child should only be in a seat belt when they are able to sit in the seat belt alone.
- They should use the lap and shoulder belt at all times.
- The child should have the lap belt across the upper thighs.
- The shoulder belt should go across the chest of the child.
Special Needs Seat Belts
There are no special laws for children that have special needs other than they are required by law to ride in a car seat or in a seat belt until they are old enough to sit in the seat with the seat belt properly on, on their own.
The seatbelt laws are constantly changing so it is important to know the present laws as well as to know the past laws:
- In 1982, children under the age of three years old were required to have a passenger restraint system that met federal and safety standards.
- In 1991, anyone riding in the front seat was required to have their seat belt fastened anytime the car was in motion.
- In 1999, not using a seat belt became a primary offense.
- In 2006, children up to 15 years of age were required to use a passenger restraint system.
Taxies and Public Transportation
If a person is transporting a child public transportation or in a passenger van that carries 11 or more people, then the Alabama Child Restraint Law does not apply to that person. These services include:
- School Buses
Uber drivers are required to follow the Alabama Child Restraint Laws in accordance to the state. These laws are slightly different than regular vehicles such as:
- Children under 1 years old must be in a rear-facing car seat.
- Children under 6 must be in a car seat.
- Children 6-15 must wear seatbelts anytime the car is in motion.
Seat Belt Penalties
If a person is found to violate Alabama’s child restraint laws, then they will get a $25 dollar fine for each offense and will get points against their driving record:
- First offense-one point
- Second offense-two points
Car Seat Help for Low-Income Families
If you are unable to afford a car seat, you need to speak to someone in order to help you to get one so that your child is safe.
Even though there are no federal programs that provide car seats for families, here are a few good ideas that can help you to get financial assistance or free car seats in Alabama:
- Families that are unable to get a car seat can get a car seat from Children of Alabama and they will get the car seat when they are discharged and after watching a video about car seat safety.
- Families will get a $15 voucher towards a car seat if they are in violation of having a car seat that is not the right size for their child.
- In Alabama or any state, parents can contact hospitals, fire departments and police departments to try to get a free car seat if parents cannot afford one.
- Safe Kids is a program that is nationwide that will provide a car seat in exchange for parents taking a safety program.
Alabama Cell Phone Usage
There are no restrictions for motorists that are 18 years of age and older using a cell phone while driving. There are some rules that do apply to cell phone usage such as:
- People under 18 years of age are not allowed to use any handheld communication device while driving a vehicle.
- Underage cellphone or texting is a $150 dollar to $350 dollar fine and two points on the motorist’s driving record.
- Motorists any age are not allowed to text while driving.
- Texting while driving includes a $25 dollar for the first offense, $50 dollar fine for the second offense and $75 dollar fine for the third offense with each offense giving two points to the motorist’s driving record.
- Cellphone violation can become a reckless driving conviction based on the violation.
- Vehicular homicide charges can apply if someone dies as a result of these violations.
Texting includes instant messages, email and texting. The texting ban does not include:
- A device that is used to call emergency services such as an ambulance or a police officer.
- Using the phone for texting while parked on the side of the road or on the shoulder.
- Using a GPS to get directions that are pre-programmed.
As in all states, Alabama has car seat laws to help protect not only the child, but the parent of the child that is driving the car.
Check out these laws to make sure that you are helping to keep your child safe. Having a car seat and using it correctly can save the life of your child.
Always be sure to check the age, weight and height restrictions when purchasing a new car seat and make sure that you never put your child in the front seat.
All of these laws are proven effective for keeping children safe while riding in a moving vehicle.