Illinois’ Car Seat Law states that all children under the age of eight must be securely restrained in an appropriate child restraint system which includes a booster seat. For children under age two must be secured in an approved rear-facing car seat; unless they are over 40 pounds. 

According to the Chicago Sun Times, 584 people were killed in vehicle accidents and traffic incidents in Illinois during the first six months of 2022. Illinois’ Children and Family Research Center reported that accidents are the second highest cause of child deaths in the year 2018.

Vehicular accidents were one of the major incidents recorded in the statistics, accounting for 42 of the 169 totals. This alarming figure serves as a warning and reminder for parents to strictly follow the law to save their children from any possible injuries and accidents in times of collision. 

This article will serve as a guide for parents regarding the specifications of Illinois Car Seat Law. It contains all the necessary information, explanations, and resources that parents might need in the future.

Rundown of Illinois’ Car Seat Law

The official website of the state of Illinois , the Child Passenger Protection Act was enacted to protect children’s health and safety through the proper use of “approved child restraint systems.” Parents or legal guardians of children under the age of eight are required to provide an approved child safety seat to anyone who transports their child.

The law also states that while carrying a kid under the age of eight, the individual is responsible for securely strapping the youngster in a suitable child restraint system, which includes a booster seat. While carrying a child 8 years and older but under the age of 16, everyone is accountable for securely strapping the child in a seat belt. 

If the vehicle used to transport children under the age of eight is only equipped with lap belts in the back seat, and the kid weighs more than 40 pounds, the child may travel in the rear seat wearing only a lap belt. If a lap and shoulder belt combination is available, the youngster must be restrained in a booster seat.

In January 2009, the law was amended to include an additional requirement for small children under the age of two. Children that are under two must be properly secured in a rear-facing car seat unless they’re 40” tall or taller or if they weigh 40 or more pounds. 

Requirements for Rear-Facing Infant Car Seat from birth until the age of two

The Child Passenger Protection Act in Illinois was revised on January 1, 2019, to include a requirement for newborns, babies, and young children under the age of two. 

Not every state requires rear-facing car seats, but Illinois law now requires that children under the age of two be securely restrained in a rear-facing child restraint system. 

The only exceptions to this rule are if the youngster weighs more than 40 pounds or is taller than 40 inches (or taller). Youngsters must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are two years old or reach the 40-pound or 40-inch height limit.

 

Illinois Car Seat Height and Weight Conditions for children ages two and below

Below is a table that contains the height and weight requirements of Illinois Car Seat Law for infants to two-year olds. 

AgeBirth to age 2
WeightLess than 40 pounds
HeightLess than 40 inches
Car Seat TypeInfant seat, convertible seat, or all-in-one
Car Seat DirectionStrictly limited to rear-facing

 

Rear-facing car seats are typically advertised as “infant car seats,” however, they can also be convertible car seats. In any instance, you must choose a seat designed for rear-facing installation rather than a regular front-facing car seat that has been illegally fitted to face backward. 

While dealing with a rear-facing car seat for an infant or young kid, keep the following safety standards in mind:

  • Never place your rear-facing child seat in a seat equipped with an airbag. 
  • Ascertain that the rear-facing seat is positioned at the correct reclining angle. 
  • When your kid is rear-facing, you may need to leave at least one inch or more below the top of the safety seat for his or her head. 
  • When the seat is in the rear-facing position, the harness straps should be at or below the child’s shoulders. 
  • Make sure the harness straps are snug on the youngster and that the harness clip is at the child’s armpit level.

 

Despite the fact that Illinois law specifies when a kid must be strapped in a rear-facing child safety seat, bear in mind that a rear-facing seat in the vehicle’s back seat is often the safest place for your child to ride. 

Maintain your children in rear-facing safety seats for as long as feasible until they meet the manufacturer’s upper weight and/or height restrictions. After the kid has outgrown the rear-facing seat, he or she should be switched to a forward-facing safety seat.

If you want to know more about Illinois Car Seat Law, you can watch this video for more information.

Illinois Car Seat Requirements for Children Aged 2 to 4

As a baby or young kid outgrows their rear-facing car seat, it’s time to switch to a front-facing car seat. Children above the age of two must still be buckled into an appropriate car seat and should ride rear-facing for as long as feasible.

Illinois Car Seat Height and Weight Requirements

Age2-4 years old
WeightOver 40 pounds
HeightOver 40 inches
Car Seat TypeInfant seat, convertible seat, or all-in-one
Car Seat DirectionRear or front-facing, follow manufacturer’s height and weight requirements

 

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for seat placement depending on your child’s height and weight. 

When the child reaches the maximum weight restriction for a rear-facing seat, they can be repositioned to face forward (if it is a convertible or all-in-one seat). If the car seat is not a convertible and is exclusively for infants, you will need to buy a forward-facing seat for your developing child.

A forward-facing car seat has a harness and tether system that helps to limit a child’s movement during a car collision, reducing the risk of head, neck, or spinal damage.

Forward-facing safety seats should be equipped with a harness restraint system. You should continue to use the seat’s harness system until your child reaches the upper height or weight limits. 

In your forward-facing car safety seat, the harness straps should be at or above the child’s shoulders, with the straps fitted snugly on the child. Ensure that the harness clips are at the child’s armpit level. 

The top of your child’s ears should not be higher than the top of the car seat while placed in a forward-facing car safety seat.

Illinois Car Seat Regulations for Children Ages 4 to 8

After a kid reaches the age of four, he or she may be allowed to sit in a booster seat rather than a car seat.

However, when you make this change, it is determined more by the child’s height and weight than by their age. To assist your decision-making for this adjustment, you should continue to use the seat manufacturer’s top height and weight restrictions.

Children should continue to sit in a forward-facing car seat for as long as possible. Only once they truly outgrow their car seat should they switch to a booster seat. The booster seat should be a belt-positioning booster that uses the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts, not just the lap belt alone. 

Ensure that the lap belt is positioned across the child’s thighs rather than across the stomach. The shoulder belt should be positioned across the child’s shoulder and chest, not across their neck or face.

If the child’s safety belt is not in the proper position according to the booster seat’s placement design, he or she should not be strapped in a booster seat. Kids should remain in a car seat until they are old enough to correctly wear a seat belt with the aid of a booster.

Here’s another video about the importance, and essential information regarding Illinois’ Car Seat Law. 

When Can a Child Sit Without a Booster Seat in Illinois? 

After outgrowing their car seats, children should continue to use a booster seat for several years. Children aged 8 to 12 should typically use a booster seat until they are tall enough to fit into a regular lap and shoulder belt restraint system. 

The lap belt should fit low over the child’s upper thighs while they are seated in a vehicle. If the child’s seat belt crosses their tummy, they are not correctly situated. 

The child’s shoulder belt should fit firmly over his or her chest and shoulder, not across the side of their neck and face. If the seat belt does not fit properly, the kid should remain in their belt-positioning booster seat for a few minutes longer.

The child should also be able to sit back with their back and hips against the vehicle’s seat back without slouching and their knees bent over the front border of the vehicle’s seat. They are not big enough to sit without a booster seat if they are unable to sit straight with the seat belt firmly positioned. 

As a general rule, children should sit in the rear seat until they are at least 13 years old, as this is the safest position for a youngster to sit. Please see more thorough details in this post.

Fines and Penalties for disobeying the Car Seat Law

According to the official website of the state of Illinois, violators of the Child Passenger Protection Act will face a $75 fine for the first offense and are eligible for court supervision if they provide the court with documented proof of a properly installed child restraint system and completion of an instructional course on the installation of that restraint system from a child safety seat technician. 

A further infraction is a minor offense punishable by a $200 fine and not subject to judicial supervision.

What are Illinois Car Seat Laws for Pickup Trucks?

Understanding the requirements regarding car seats in pickup trucks can be confusing, especially if the truck needs a back seat. But, the regulations governing car seats and kid safety seats are the same whether you’re driving a car, truck, or passenger van.

Children should never ride in the bed of a truck. The law prohibits this in all fifty states, including Illinois. All children under the age of eight must be secured in a child safety restraint system.

Depending on the child’s age, height, and weight, this might be a car seat, a booster seat, or the vehicle’s safety belt. 

Babies must be restrained in a rear-facing baby or convertible car seat, preferably in the backseat of the vehicle if the truck has an extended cab. If the vehicle does not have an expanded cab, the seat can be installed in the truck’s front seat in the rear-facing position. 

After the kid has reached the maximum height and weight restrictions for the rear-facing car seat, they must sit in a forward-facing car seat that is fastened to the truck’s seat using a LATCH tethering system or the vehicle’s seat belts.

If the child is over 40 pounds, they may be secured using a lap belt only (instead of a booster seat) if the truck seat is not equipped with a lap and shoulder safety belt system. However, if the child weighs less than 40 pounds or is over 40 inches tall, they must be secured in a rear-facing car seat.

Illinois Car Seat Requirements for Uber or Taxi Trips

Car seat restrictions may not apply in some jurisdictions to taxis or ridesharing cars such as Uber or Lyft. Unfortunately, such exclusions are not permitted under Illinois law. Children traveling in taxis or Uber vehicles are subject to the same laws that apply to any other passenger vehicle. 

In Illinois, parents who transport their small children in a taxi or Uber vehicle must ensure that the kid is securely restrained in a safety restraint device, which may be a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt, depending on the child’s age and size.

In some areas, Uber offers a car seat option when booking a vehicle. Though there may not always be a car seat vehicle available in your area, it is a feature that Uber offers for a $10 surcharge.

Nevertheless, bear in mind that these cars only have one car seat per vehicle, so if you’re going with more than one little child, you’ll run out of car seats. 

If you plan to travel with smaller children, carry along a travel car seat or a travel booster seat available in different online stores such as Amazon.

Illinois Law on Leaving a Child Unattended

It is illegal in Illinois to leave a kid aged six or younger unsupervised in a motor vehicle for longer than ten minutes.

According to the law, “unattended” is defined as a child not accompanied by a person at least 14 years old, or if they’re out of sight of a person at least 14 years old.

Violating this law is a Class A misdemeanor, which can be punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. If someone violates the law a second time, it becomes a Class 3 felony, which could be punishable by 2-5 years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.

Useful Resources

Nothing is more important than keeping your child safe when riding in a car. 

The simplest way to accomplish this is to ensure that they are securely restrained in an approved safety restraint system, such as a front-facing car seat, a rear-facing car seat, or a booster seat, or by utilizing the vehicle’s safety belt system when your kid is of the right age. 

It is so crucial to keep children properly restrained when traveling in a car that the state of Illinois provides many free services. Let’s have a look at some of the useful resources that are available in your area.

Inspections and assistance with safety seat installation

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office conducts free inspections by trained child safety seat technicians throughout the state as part of the “Keep Me In a Safe Seat” program. 

You may get a free seat inspection by visiting one of the state’s fitting stations or filling out the online form.

The following sites provide the necessary safety inspections:

  • Carbondale Driver Services Facility – Carbondale, IL
  • Centralia Driver Services Facility – Centralia, IL 
  • Chicago North Facility – Chicago, IL 
  • Deerfield Driver Services Facility – Deerfield, IL 
  • Des Plaines Driver Services Facility – Des Plaines, IL 
  • Marion Driver Services Facility – Marion, IL 
  • Mt. Vernon Driver Services Facility – Mt. Vernon, IL 
  • Nashville Driver Services Facility – Nashville, IL 
  • Pinckneyville Driver Services Facility – Pinckneyville, IL 
  • Salem Driver Services Facility – Salem, IL
  • Springfield – Dirksen Parkway Driver Services Facility – Springfield, IL

Free Car Seat Programs in Illinois

The Buckle Up Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Program is a Chicago-based program that provides workshops and car seat inspections, installation assistance, and free or reduced-cost car seats to families in need. 

To register for workshops or inquire about reduced-cost or no-cost car seats, contact them at carseats@luriechildrens.org

Another alternative is Grant-A-Wish, Inc., a Chicago-based organization that strives to get needs (such as car seats) into the hands of needy families. You may contact them directly for more information on their programs. 

Stroger Hospital also offers a free or low-cost car seat program to qualifying families. While the car seat program is now discontinued. You should check back frequently for updates on when those services may be resumed. 

Additional options may include your local Salvation Army, fire or police stations, hospitals, or other charity groups. 

It is important to remember never to use a used car seat unless it has been properly tested for safety, you should know the seat’s history, and all labels, parts, and the instruction manual are still there. 

It’s critical to know when the seat was made since they have expiration dates. Car seats that are more than six years old should not be used unless approved by the manufacturer. 

It’s also a good idea to register your car seat so you may be alerted of any critical safety information or recalls.

Additional Information Sources

Here are additional useful websites and resources you can visit for further information about kid safety seats:

Conclusion

One of the major causes of child deaths in Illinois are vehicular accidents. This is why the state produced a Child Passenger Protection Act. According to Illinois’ Car Seat Law, all children under the age of eight must be properly secured in an approved child restraint system, which includes a booster seat. Children under the age of two must be strapped in an authorized rear-facing car seat, unless they weigh more than 40 pounds.

Car Seat Law does not only protect children from any major injury and fatality in times of collisions. It also helps parents in protecting their children from any harm they can experience during a crash. In following this law, you are not simply obeying a state law, but you are also securing the safety of your kid while traveling. 

Author

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