If you’re having a baby, or if you have small children, you need to keep up with changes in car seat laws. Iowa in 2019 made some changes to its car seat laws that affect how long children have to stay in different car seats. We’ll discuss the current and previous laws, the changes, the exceptions to those changes, outline the penalties for not following the law, and answer some frequently asked questions.
Current Iowa Car Seat Laws:
As of March 2019, Iowa changed their car seat laws:
- Children under the age of 3 who weigh under 20 pounds should ride in a rear-facing restraint system.
- Children 1-6 years old must ride in a restraint system, whether it’s a safety seat or booster seat. They cannot use in a seat belt.
- Children from the age of 6 up to the age of 18 may use either a car seat or a safety belt. Previously, the law had said children from the age of 6 to the age of 11 could use a car seat or a safety belt.
New Rules on Seat Belts on “New” School Buses
The State Board of Education of Iowa proposed a very important rule for all the “New” school buses.
- As of October 2, all the new buses will have to be made with seat belts.
- This law is not applicable for all the school buses manufactured before October 2
- It requires lap shoulder seat belts and other safety equipment
- Included “one additional stop arm per bus, hand rails, exterior boarding lights, and fire-resistant crash barriers between the front bus seat and the bus driver”
- This rule is yet to be reviewed by the Board of Legislators
- The State Board also adopted rules that require all the school vehicles to be inspected on a frequent basis
- Furthermore, mandatory school buses evacuation drills have to be completed on a twice per year basis
Exceptions to these changes:
The law is not applicable in the following situations:
- Peace officers serving on official duty.
- Children riding in vehicles made before 1965, allowed emergency vehicles, buses, motor homes or motor sport vehicles, except if the child is riding in the passenger’s seat to the right of the driver.
- Children who can’t use a child restraint because they have a medical, physical or mental problem that prevents it or makes it inadvisable to secure them in a car seat, seat belt, or safety harness.
- If a child riding in the back seat doesn’t have a seat belt to use because they’re all being used by other passengers.
Summary of Previous Iowa Car Seat Laws:
These were the Iowa car seat laws that came into effect in 2004:
- Children who were less than 1-year-old and weighed less than 20 pounds had to ride in a rear-facing car seat.
- Kids 1 to 6 years old had to ride in a child restraint system instead of a seat belt.
- Children 6 to 11 years old could ride in a child restraint system or safety belt.
- Back seat passengers under 18 years old had to wear a safety belt.
The fine was $100 plus costs – that made the total of the fine at least $195.
Penalties for not following Iowa Car Seat Laws
Anyone who violates the laws is guilty of a simple misdemeanor. According to code section 805.8A, subsection 14 paragraph c, they would receive a $100 fine. A driver who violates this section while transporting a child 14 years of age or younger would receive a citation for a violation of the section. If the passenger is 14 years or older and violates these laws, they can receive the citation instead of the driver.
In a case, when a child 14 years of age or younger has a disability that prevents them from being able to fasten their safety belt, and they’re riding in a taxicab or personal vehicle operated by a transportation company, the parent or legal guardian can receive a citation for a violation of this section. If the child is 14 years or older, the police officer can serve them the citation.
A person who has received a citation for a violation of this section and hasn’t purchased a car seat won’t receive a conviction if they produce evidence in court that they have purchased or received one.
- Anyone who violates the law is guilty of a misdemeanor and will receive a $100 fine.
- If the driver violates this section while transporting a child who is less than 14 years old, they will be charged.
- If their passenger violates the section and is 14 years or older, the officer will charge the passenger.
Other important points:
- The law applies to both residents and non-residents of Iowa.
- The parent or guardian should use the car seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- The child must be in the car seat and you must install it in the vehicle correctly.
- Not using a child restraint system is a probable cause to stop a vehicle.
Ways parents commonly misuse child safety seats
- They install the seat too loose.
- Moms put it in front of an airbag.
- They don’t buckle the child in the restraint.
- Parents don’t anchor it securely to the vehicle.
- The child is in the wrong size seat for their age and size.
- An infant is riding in a forward-facing seat.
- The harness retainer clip isn’t at the level of the child’s armpit.
- The harness straps are loose.
FAQs about Iowa Car Seat Laws
What if a baby weighs over 20 pounds but they haven’t turned one-year-old yet?
Choose a seat that you can use rear-facing for children weighing over 20 pounds and keep them rear-facing as long as you can. The important thing is that you’re following Iowa’s laws.
At what age is a child finished using a booster seat?
The requirements for a child to be finished using a booster seat in Iowa aren’t age-related. They’re finished when their legs are long enough for them to sit back in the vehicle seat with their knees bent over the edge and their feet reach the floor. When they’re buckled in the seat belt, the shoulder belt should cross over their collarbone, and the lap belt should cross over their hip bones and upper thighs.
At what age is my child old enough to sit in the front seat?
According to Iowa’s car seat laws, children can sit in the front seat when they reach 13 years of age.
These are the changes that Iowa made to their car seat laws for this year, and the answers to questions you might have about existing Iowa car seat laws. It’s tricky to figure out when your child needs a new car seat, but there are plenty of helpful resources.
Important Points to Remember
We included everything you need to know about Iowa car seat laws. These laws are important because they keep children safe, and it is essential for parents to follow them. If you have questions, contact the Iowa Department of Education at educateiowa.gov.
Feel free to share any thoughts or comments you may have in the section below!