Whether you are a resident of Hawaii or just visiting, you must abide by the state’s car seat safety laws while on the island. These laws specify which type of seat your child must be in if they are riding in a motor vehicle.
Failure to abide by the state of Hawaii’s car seat safety laws when transporting a child can result in serious consequences. In this guide, we will cover Hawaii’s forward-facing car seat laws, rear-facing laws, front seat car seat laws, and other important information.
In this article, we covered Hawaii car seat laws by age categories and weight and height limits (described below). Children under 4 must use a child safety seat. Children ages 4 to 7 must use a booster. The entire law in full detail can be found here §291-11.5 of Hawaii Child Passenger Restraints.
Rear-Facing Car Seat Law
The first category is age 4 and under, a weight limit does not apply. Children under 4 must ride in a child safety seat.
And, ride rear-facing until at least the age of 2, or until they outgrow the seat. This can be an infant seat or a convertible seat. The child seat should be in the backseat of your vehicle. This is the safest seat type and location.
Never put a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a vehicle with active front-passenger airbags. Always check that the harness and seat are secure. When your child exceeds the capacity limits or ages out of a rear-facing car seat, there are further laws you must abide by.
Forward-Facing Car Seat Law
Toddlers age 1 and over, weighing 20 pounds or more can use a forward-facing car seat. The seat must be secured in the vehicle’s backseat. A forward-facing seat must be used until they exceed the weight/age limits. If your child has met the limits of a rear-facing car seat, you are not home free. There are still additional laws you must follow.
Child Booster Seat Law
Children 4 through 7, under 4 feet and 9 inches in height, or under 40 pounds must use a booster seat. This must be a lap-shoulder belt-positioning booster. Follow all age and capacity regulations on the booster seat.
Booster Readiness Check
To sit in a booster the following should be true:
- The lap belt is snug and low on the hips
- The shoulder belt does not cross the face or neck
- The child’s back is flush against the seat
- Their knees bend over the edge of the vehicle seat
- They are not slouching
A child safety seat should be used until they exceed the capacity limits. Do not move to a booster seat too early. Once your child is 8 years or older, the standard Hawaii vehicle laws apply.
Lap-Shoulder Seat Belt Law
Hawaii requires that all front and back seat passengers buckle up. Adults and children must use seat belts and child restraints at all times.
When Can My Child Ride In the Front Seat?
The State of Hawaii requires any child under the age of 8 to ride in the back seat of the vehicle. When your child is 8 years or older they may sit in the front seat. However, experts advise that the safest place for children under the age of 13 is the back seat.
Hawaii Car Seat Law Taxi/Uber
In the State of Hawaii taxis and Uber are exempt from the child car seat safety laws. However, passengers riding in the back of the taxis or Ubers must buckle up. Parents could receive a citation if their child is not safely secured. Some car companies may be able to provide a booster seat for a small fee
In the end, Hawaii’s passenger seat belt law, that requires back seat passengers to buckle up, and the State’s child safety seat law, that exempts taxis, seem to conflict. But, it is always better to be safe than sorry and properly secure your child in an appropriate seat no matter the vehicle type.
Commercial Vehicle Law
Commercial vehicles are exempt from the child safety seat law.
Medical Emergency Law in Hawaii
If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, the restraint laws do not apply.
What Happens If I Don’t Follow the Law?
If you do not follow the law you can receive a fine of anywhere from 100 to 500 dollars. Additionally, depending on the number of previous offenses you may be subjected to a four-hour car seat safety course.
Hawaii’s Car Seat Safety Incentive
To promote car seat safety and encourage participation the state of Hawaii offers a State tax credit. An annual $25 applies to the purchase of a child safety seat or booster seat.
Hawaii’s Child Passenger Safety Week
The State of Hawaii also puts on an annual Child Passenger Safety Week to educate the public about traveling safely with children in a vehicle. The Highway Department of Transportation, county police departments, and CPS make safety week possible.
During the week-long event, technicians provide information and instruction on when to use a child safety seat or a booster seat and how to properly use and install them. The week concludes with various communities hosting free car seat installation and safety checks.
Other Hawaii Vehicle Laws Concerning Children
In addition to car seat laws, there are a few other laws that concern children in a vehicle.
- It is illegal to leave a child in a car for more than five minutes unsupervised.
- It is a crime to smoke in a vehicle with a child passenger
- No law in the State of Hawaii makes it mandatory to replace your child safety seat after an accident
Traveling With a Child
The car seat laws in Hawaii aim to protect the lives of the state’s youngest residents and visitors. It is important to abide by the laws in order to keep children riding in vehicles safe and secure.