In New Jersey, ensuring the safety of children takes precedence on every journey. Car seat laws in New Jersey are a testament to the commitment to protect children traveling on the state’s roads. 

I present a guide to the NJ booster seat law, shedding light on the statistics, types of car seats, key features, and, ultimately, the importance of safety for our children.

Statistics: Need For Vigilance 

Understanding the need for stringent car seat laws is rooted in the stark reality of road safety statistics. In New Jersey, 650 car crashes occurred in 2022. They were the leading cause of injury and mortality among children. 

Shockingly, many of these tragedies could have been prevented with proper car seat usage. These statistics paint a poignant picture, underscoring the urgency of adhering to and enforcing New Jersey’s car seat laws.

nj booster seat laws

Car Seat Laws In New Jersey

The NJ booster seat law establishes requirements for kids based on age, weight, and height.

  • Children in rear-facing car seats must be under two years of age and weigh 30 pounds or less.
  • Children under four years of age and weighing 40 pounds or less must sit in a rear-facing car seat with a five-point harness. They must stay within these seats until their height and weight reach the safety recommendations of the car seat’s manufacturer.
  • Children from 4 to 7 years of age must stay in the backseat in booster car seats until they turn eight or become 57 inches tall.

Critical Features Of Car Seat Laws In New Jersey

The NJ booster seat law stipulates that children must be securely restrained in a car seat or booster seat if they are under a certain age, weight, or height. The laws outline when a child can transition from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat and eventually to a booster seat:

Rear-Facing Seats

New Jersey’s car seat laws emphasize the importance of rear-facing seats for infants and young children. These laws often require children to remain in a rear-facing seat until they reach a certain age or weight limit, as this position offers optimal protection for their developing bodies.

Forward-Facing Seats And Boosters

The laws outline the appropriate transition from rear-facing seats to forward-facing seats with harnesses and, eventually, booster seats. Children are typically required to use a booster seat until they meet specific height and weight requirements to ensure the vehicle’s seat belt fits them properly.

Seat Belt Usage

Car seat laws in New Jersey dictate that children who have outgrown booster seats must use a seat belt that fits them correctly. This ensures the seat belt provides effective restraint and protection in a collision.

Penalties for Noncompliance

The laws establish penalties for drivers who fail to comply with the car seat regulations. Penalties can include fines and accumulating points on the driver’s license, impacting insurance rates and driving privileges.

Secondary Enforcement

In some cases, car seat laws in New Jersey may be considered secondary enforcement. Law enforcement officers cannot stop a vehicle solely for a car seat violation. However, if they stop the vehicle for another reason, such as a traffic violation, the officer can also issue a citation for the car seat violation.

Exemptions

There were a few exemptions to the NJ booster seat law, including: 

Medical Exemptions: If a child had a medical reason that made it impractical or unsafe to use a car seat. 

Taxis and Public Transportation: Car seat laws did not apply to taxis and public transportation, but using car seats whenever possible was recommended. 

Vehicles without rear seats: If a vehicle did not have rear seats (e.g., particular pickup trucks), a child could be secured in a car seat in the front seat of the vehicle. 

Educational Programs

Some jurisdictions may offer educational programs to promote awareness and proper use of car seats. These programs aim to educate caregivers and drivers about correctly restraining children in vehicles.

Focus on Child Safety

The NJ booster seat law’s overarching focus is to prioritize children’s safety and well-being while traveling in vehicles. The laws are designed to reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities in the event of a collision.

Baby Car Seat Laws in New Jersey

According to NJ car seat laws for babies, children under two must be strapped in a rear-facing child safety seat with a five-point harness. 

AgeNewborns to 2-year-olds
WeightUp to 30 pounds
Car seat typeInfant-only seat or convertible in a rear-facing position
Seat directionStrictly rear-facing
Harness strapFive-point harness system

This restraint system safely fastens the child at five locations using two shoulder straps, two hip straps, and a strap between the legs. This design minimizes the possibility of ejection or excessive movement in the case of an accident by securely and snugly holding the baby inside the car seat.

You must follow these rear-facing car seat regulations to ensure legal observance and, more significantly, to preserve the safety and well-being of our young passengers. 

New Jersey’s Car Seat Regulations For Children Aged 2-4

New Jersey car seat laws stipulate that children between 2 and 4 must ride in a rear-facing seat with a 5-point harness if they weigh between 30 and 40 pounds.

To ensure your child’s safety, please refer to the following table.

Age2-4 years old
Weight30-40 pounds (depending on the seat manufacturer)
Car seat typeConvertible or 3-in-1
Seat directionRear-facing or front-facing (depends on the seat’s limits)
Harness strapFive-point harness system

The law prioritizes using rear-facing car seats longer before switching the child to a forward-facing seat. As a parent, you can considerably improve your children’s safety and well-being by following the recommendation to use front-facing car seats as much as possible.

New Jersey’s Booster Seat Laws 

When a kid reaches a forward-facing seat’s height and weight limits, the next step is to use a booster seat. 

According to the New Jersey booster seat requirement, booster seats could be used until a child reaches the age of eight or achieves a height of 57 inches, whichever comes first.

Clearly and concisely summarise New Jersey’s regulations on booster seats in the table below. 

Age4-8 years old
Weight40-100 pounds (check booster seats’ recommendations)
Car seat typeBelt-positioning booster seat
Seat directionFront-facing 
Harness strapMust be used with both a lap belt and shoulder belt (if both are available)

The child’s safety can be significantly increased by using a booster seat, which raises their seating position and ensures the seat belt is correctly aligned in the event of an accident.

When Can You Stop Using Booster Seats in New Jersey?

For a child who is eight or older or 57 inches or taller, you must safely buckle them up in their seat. Their seatbelt should be fastened, with the lap belt crossing their upper thigh and the chest and collarbone resting comfortably without pressing against their neck. 

To use a seatbelt, a child must be able to sit up straight or have both feet on the ground with their knees comfortably bent. Children must be able to maintain this position throughout their trip.

A child must sit in the backseat of a car equipped with safety belts or a LATCH system to comply with New Jersey’s child front seat law. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises keeping children in the rear seat until they are at least 13. By the standards for their height and weight, you must strap them into an appropriate child restraint.

Safety Tips For Seat Belt or Booster Seat

Here are some safety tips to follow when using a seat belt or booster seat:

  • Even though they no longer require a booster seat, if your child is under 13, they should always travel in the rear seat.
  • Make sure the installation of any booster seat you use is done correctly. Read the owner’s manual, then do what it says.
  • Please do not allow your child to tuck the shoulder belt behind their back or under their arm. They risk severe injuries if you brake unexpectedly or are involved in an accident.
  • When not in use, the booster seat should be fastened with a seat belt to prevent it from being flung out of the car if you quickly stop.
  • Never use anything not packaged with the booster seat, including seat belt adjusters. Your child does not require any additional devices if they are in the proper car seat for their size.

New Jersey Child Seat Replacement Law

In New Jersey, there is no explicit child seat replacement law. However, the NHTSA suggests replacing the child’s seat after an accident. 

In New Jersey, you must replace the child safety seat immediately after a moderate or severe collision. This is because the seat might have danger-posing flaws that are difficult to see. 

There is no immediate requirement to replace the car seat in the event of a low-impact collision. Such a crash is one in which no passengers are hurt, the airbags don’t deploy, the car seat is unharmed, and you could still drive it away from the collision scene.

Additionally, if the car seat has reached its manufacturer-specified expiration date or your child outgrows it, you must replace it. 

Penalties for Noncompliance with NJ Car Seat Laws

In New Jersey, fines for violating car seat laws can range from approximately $50 to $75 for a first offense. 

Repeated offenses may lead to higher fines, and accumulating multiple violations could result in more severe consequences, including increased fines and points on your driving record.

Conclusion: A Shared Responsibility for a Safer Future 

New Jersey’s car seat laws are a cornerstone for protecting our most vulnerable citizens in the ever-evolving road safety landscape. Adhering to these laws is not just a legal obligation but a moral responsibility shared by every community member.

As parents, caregivers, and drivers, we hold the power to shape a safer future for our children – one where the road is paved with adherence to car seat laws, ensuring that every journey is a step towards a secure and protected tomorrow.

FAQs

What are the current booster seat requirements in New Jersey?

According to New Jersey car seat legislation, children under the age of eight and shorter than 4’9″ must ride in a booster seat secured by a safety belt or a latch mechanism.

At what age can a child transition from a car seat to a booster seat in New Jersey?

When a child reaches age four and has demonstrated adequate readiness for the transition, they can transition from a car seat to a booster car seat in New Jersey. 

It is critical to note that the transfer should not occur until the kid has reached the minimum age requirement for using a booster seat and has outgrown the weight and height limits of their forward-facing car seat.

What are the penalties for not complying with the NJ booster seat law?

Parents who are caught not following the new laws could be fined. The cost of these fines could be between $50 and $75.

Are there any exceptions or exceptional circumstances to the booster seat requirements in New Jersey?

There are a few exceptions to New Jersey’s mandated child restraint system. The booster seat regulations do not apply if your car was built before July 1, 1966, or if you are not obliged by law to have a seat belt. This law also does not apply to a driver or passenger who cannot wear a seatbelt due to a medical condition.

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

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