Chances are if you are reading this, you are wondering about Delaware DMV car seat laws. Perhaps you plan to visit The Diamond State, or maybe you already live there.
Either way, this article will cover all of Delaware’s laws concerning vehicles, safety, and most importantly children. We will discuss in detail, the State’s car seat laws for children ages infant through teenagers.
The Office of Highway Safety oversees the state’s car seat laws and makes recommendations on best practices for parents and their littlest passengers.
- Delaware Car Seat Law Requirements
- Types of Restraints for Children
- Booster Seat
- Lap-Shoulder Belt
- How Do These Guidelines Fit Delaware’s Laws?
- The Law for Infants to Older Children (Age 8)
- Use of a Rear-Facing and Forward-Facing Car Seat in Delaware
- Booster Seat
- Lap-Shoulder Belt Use in Delaware
- The Law for Older Children to Adolescents (Age 16)
- When Can My Child Ride in the Front Seat?
- Consequences For Not Following the Law
- Other Laws Concerning Children
- Importance of Proper Car Seat In Delaware
Delaware Car Seat Law Requirements
Delaware’s car seat law mandates “All children must be properly restrained in a federally approved child safety seat appropriate for the child’s age, weight and height up to 8 years of age or 65 lbs whichever comes first.”
After age 8 or 65 pounds, children are required to be properly secured with a seatbelt in the back seat of a vehicle. After 16 years of age, the State’s standard seat belt law applies (read below). Everyone, ages infant to adult, is expected to be properly restrained when riding in a vehicle.
Types of Restraints for Children
To keep your child in the appropriate safety seat, you must first know the various kinds of seats and their guidelines. This is known as the four stages of seat safety.
These can be infant seats or convertible seats. They should be used until their height and weight limits are exceeded. In most cases, weight limits can range between 30 and 65 pounds. The height limit is usually 1 inch below the top of the seat.
Forward-facing car seats or convertible forward-facing seats should be used after rear-facing seats. Their upper weight limit can be 60 to 90 pounds. Their height maximum is one inch below the top of the seat.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a forward-facing seat after the rear-facing weight and height limits are exceeded, usually when your child is around 3 to 5 years of age.
A booster seat is a belt positioner. There are backless boosters and highback boosters. It works by elevating your child so that the vehicle seat belt appropriately crosses their body, in the center of their shoulder and chest.
Booster seats generally should not be used with children who still fit their forward-facing seat. Experts recommend not using a booster until your child is at least 4 years of age and weighs at least 40 pounds.
Finally, when your child has outgrown their booster seat they can use the lap-shoulder vehicle seat belt. In most cases, this will be when your child is 8 years or older, weighs over 40 pounds, and is taller than 4 feet 9 inches.
How Do These Guidelines Fit Delaware’s Laws?
The Law for Infants to Older Children (Age 8)
The state of Delaware mandates that all children under 8 years of age and/or under 65 pounds use the proper safety restraint.
Use of a Rear-Facing and Forward-Facing Car Seat in Delaware
From the moment your baby is born to at least 2 years of age, parents should use a rear-facing car seat. The seat should be placed in the backseat of your vehicle.
They should continue to use this seat until they exceed their manufacturer’s recommended height and weight limits. Or, at least until they are 2 years old.
Next, your little one can use a forward-facing car seat from ages 2 to 4. However, it is advised that you transition seat types based on the car seats maximum height and weight limits, not your child’s age.
Many forward-facing car seats have a weight limit of 50 to 90 pounds. Many children are ready to transition out of a forward-facing seat when they are around 5 years of age, though some experts say 4 years is suitable.
Then, your child can use a booster seat. To use a booster seat, your child should be at least 4 years old. It is even better if they have outgrown their forward-facing car seat.
The booster seat should be placed in the back seat of the vehicle. It must be used with the vehicle’s lap-shoulder belt. The shoulder belt should never be placed behind your child’s arm or back. When they exceed the seat weight limit or are at least 4 feet 9 inches in height, 65 pounds, and 8 years old they are ready to move on.
Lap-Shoulder Belt Use in Delaware
Finally, your child can use the lap-shoulder belt. The lap-shoulder belt should fit them properly, meaning it crosses the center of their chest and sits low and snug on their hips. Your child’s back should be flush against the seat back and their legs bent over the seat edge with their feet on the floor. If they can continue to hold this position for the entire ride, they are ready for the seatbelt.
Remember, to use the lap-shoulder belt the state of Delaware regulates that they must be 8 years old or weigh 65 pounds, whichever comes first.
The Law for Older Children to Adolescents (Age 16)
Your child must continue to use the lap-shoulder seat belt, preferably in the back seat, until they are 16 years old. After age 16 Delaware’s standard seat belt law applies.
When Can My Child Ride in the Front Seat?
The State of Delaware mandates that to ride in the front seat, the child must be 12 years old or at least 5 feet 5 inches tall. Most experts recommend waiting until your child is 13 years old.
This is because the force of a deploying airbag can cause serious injury to a young child sitting in the front seat. For this reason, even if your child is of age, it is recommended that you slide their seat all the way back.
All passengers should wear a lap-shoulder seat belt in the front seat.
Consequences For Not Following the Law
The fine for not following the car seat laws is $25. Additionally, you are putting your child at great risk. There is no reason not to follow the car seat safety laws.
They are clearly outlined here, by the Delaware Office of Highway Safety. Aside from providing plenty of information, the office also provides free car seat checks. How and where to obtain a free check is provided in their brochure.
Other Laws Concerning Children
In Delaware, there is no law regarding whether or not children can be left in a vehicle unattended. You cannot smoke in a car with a child passenger under the age of 12. There is no law regarding the regulation of passengers carried in the bed of a truck, though seatbelt and car seat laws may apply. Taxis are not required to follow Delaware’s car seat laws. It is unclear if Uber’s are exempt as well.
Though the state of Delaware may not have laws pertaining to all aspects of transporting children, you should still abide by the recommendations laid out by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
These include using the appropriate child seat or safety restraint at all times. This means bringing your own car seat or renting one when using a taxi or an Uber.
Also, not leaving a young child unattended in a car for any length of time. Keeping your child safe in your vehicle should be your top priority.
Importance of Proper Car Seat In Delaware
Using the proper car seat can reduce both serious and fatal injuries by up to 80%. Therefore, you need to use the appropriate car seat for your child at all times. And, in the state of Delaware, it is the law.