Child safety is highly important, particularly during road travel. California car seat laws have been established to enhance protection for young passengers and minimize injury risks in accidents.

As a parent or caregiver, staying informed about the state’s current legal requirements concerning car seats is vital.

This article offers concise and essential information on California’s car seat laws, allowing you to make well-informed decisions and ensure the safety of your children.

What California Car Seat Laws Say

Before you buy a car seat for your child in California, it is vital to consider the state’s laws first. For example, California car seat laws stipulate the age at which your child should ride in a rear-facing position, forward-facing position, or booster seat. 

You may waste money buying the wrong equipment without knowing the state’s laws. Let’s look at the specifics of California seat laws about how parents should manage their children’s car seats.

California Law about Rear-Facing Car Seats

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) law mandates that children remain in a rear-facing position, utilizing either an infant car seat or a convertible car seat until they reach the age of 2 unless they surpass 40 pounds or 40 inches in height. Opting for a rear-facing position is considerably safer for children, as it substantially reduces the chances of head and neck injuries.  

In line with CA car seat regulations, it is recommended that children use a harnessed car seat until they reach the maximum height or weight specified by the manufacturer, without specifying a particular age requirement.

California Laws for Forward-Facing Car Seats

California has implemented laws regarding using forward-facing car seats for children, as indicated by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). These regulations aim to ensure the safety of young passengers while traveling in vehicles. According to California law, children must reach a minimum age of 2 years before transitioning from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing one. 

Violating car seat laws can lead to fines imposed by law enforcement. The penalty may vary, but it can range from around $100 to several hundred dollars, depending on the jurisdiction and the severity of the violation.

It is recommended for children to use rear-facing car seats until they either exceed 40 pounds in weight or 40 inches in height. Once these thresholds are surpassed, switching to a front-facing car seat incorporating a harness system becomes permissible.

Booster Seat

Children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seats must use a booster seat until they reach the age of eight or meet the height requirement of 4 feet 9 inches (145 cm). 

A booster seat helps correctly position the vehicle’s seat belt on a child’s body, providing additional safety during travel. Ensuring the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts fit the child properly before transitioning from a booster seat to using the seat belt alone is crucial.

Seat Belt Use

California law requires children to use a seat belt once they outgrow their booster seats. However, it is important to note that seat belts should fit properly for effective restraint.

Seat belts should sit snugly across the child’s shoulder and chest rather than the neck, and the lap belt should lie low across the hips and upper thighs.

How to Comply with California City Laws on Child Booster Seats

At eight years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall, children can use a seat belt or booster seat. Individuals 16 and older in California must follow the Mandatory Seat Belt Law. Parents should follow the height and weight restrictions for safety seats and boosters for maximum safety.

Are Your Kids Ready to Sit in the Front Seat? 

California car seat laws’ age and size requirements stipulate that children younger than two must use a rear-facing car seat until they meet specific requirements in weight and height.

The car seat manufacturer’s guidelines should be followed to ensure proper securement. After surpassing the legal limits and specifications of a rear-facing car seat, children can transition to a forward-facing car seat. 

When a child outgrows the weight or height restrictions of their forward-facing harnesses, it is time to consider using a booster seat. This typically occurs around 65 pounds. Children may discontinue utilizing a booster seat upon reaching eight years of age or reaching a height of 4’9″.

They can use a safety belt. However, it is recommended that children remain in a booster seat until they reach a height of 4’9″, as it provides the highest level of safety.

When Is It Illegal to Leave a Child in the Car in California City?

The California Vehicle Code Section 15620 outlines that it is deemed unlawful for a parent, guardian, or any other person bearing the responsibility to forsake a child under the age of 6 years old within the confines of a motor vehicle without the accompaniment of an individual aged 12 or older. 

Leaving a child unattended in a vehicle violating California Vehicle Code Section 15620 carries consequences in the form of an infraction. The penalty for this offense is a fine of $100. While it does not involve jail time, the financial penalty is a deterrent to discourage individuals from engaging in such behavior.

The law aims to shield children from hazards such as heatstroke, abduction, or injuries when left unsupervised in a vehicle.

What Is the Legal Age to Smoke in a Car with a Child in California City?

California has no statewide law dealing with smoking in private vehicles when there are minors. However, some cities and counties in California prohibit smoking inside a car with a child below 18. This is because a person below this age may not have the power to decide whether to leave the vehicle when someone starts smoking. 

Transgressing this legislation carries weighty consequences, as offenders may be subject to fines of up to $100.

What You Need to Know about the Taxi Car Seat Law in California City

In California, all children under eight years or 4 feet 9 inches tall must be transported in the vehicle’s backseat in an appropriate child seat. 

Violating this law can result in penalties. For a first offense, a child passenger violation carries a minimum fine of $475 with penalty assessments. Subsequent offenses incur a minimum cost of $1,055. It’s worth noting that if the parent is not in the car, the driver will be held responsible and receive the ticket. 

When traveling by taxi in California City, it’s important to note that taxi drivers are exempted from providing infant car seats for passengers. However, this exemption does not absolve parents and guardians from their responsibility to secure their children properly in a child restraint system.

How to Find Car Seat Assistance in California City?

The  California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provides up-to-date car seat laws and regulations. Additionally, you can refer to the California Highway Patrol’s website, which provides valuable guidance and resources related to child passenger safety.

California Car Seat Laws

Good Car Seat Videos for California Parents

If you’re a parent in California looking for reliable car seat information, here are some highly recommended videos to help you make informed decisions about your child’s safety. 

These videos cover proper installation, age-appropriate car seats, and best practices for securing your child. Stay informed and ensure your child’s safety on the road with these excellent car seat videos tailored for California parents.

Car Seat Safety Tips (Common Mistakes to Avoid)

Why are Rear-Facing Car Seats Safer?

How to fit a forward-facing car seat with a seatbelt

How to Choose the Right Car Seat for Your Child’s Safety

California Child Seat Laws

California Car Seat Laws

Resources for More Info on California Car Seat Laws

For more comprehensive information on Car Seat Laws, we encourage you to explore the following resources:

  • California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV):  Provides detailed information on car seat laws specific to California, ensuring you stay up-to-date and informed on the regulations in your state.
  • California Highway Patrol (CHP):   Offers valuable resources on car seat laws, guidelines, and safety recommendations, helping you navigate the requirements to keep your child secure while traveling.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): Provides extensive information on car seat laws and safety standards, offering a comprehensive resource to help you understand and comply with regulations at the national level.
  • Safe Kids Worldwide: Offers a wealth of resources on car seat laws and child passenger safety, providing guidance and tips to ensure your child’s safety while traveling in vehicles.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): Provides expert guidance on car seat laws and recommendations, offering valuable information to help you choose and install the appropriate car seat for your child’s age and size.


Understanding and complying with California’s car seat laws are vital for ensuring the safety of children during travel. Rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, booster seats, and proper seat belt use play significant roles in protecting children from potential injuries. 

Violating car seat laws may lead to fines and penalties law enforcement authorities impose. These consequences serve as a reminder of the importance of following the regulations to safeguard the well-being of children while on the road.

By following these laws and guidelines, parents and caregivers can provide the safest possible environment for their children in vehicles. Remember to consult official resources and seek professional assistance to ensure your child’s car seat is installed correctly and used according to the law.


Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren

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Keren Simanova

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren