SC car seat lawsLast year, South Carolina car seat laws were changed.

Now infants need to ride rear-facing until they’re two years old or reach the height and weight limit for the seat.

Previously, the law stated infants only had to ride rear-facing until they were 1 year old.

The new law ensures there will be fewer infant deaths from crashes. Here, we’ll cover all of the current car seat laws, including exceptions to the law, the penalties, answer a few frequently asked questions, and provide information on program mothers can use to get a reduced price car seat.

Previous SC Car Seat Laws

Before these new laws went into effect, the law stated that a child had to be at least 1 year old and 21 pounds before they could ride forward facing.

Penalties

For the first offense, the offender will be fined no more than $150. The fine can be waived if they produce evidence that they purchased a car seat on or before their court date.

 

Current SC Car Seat Laws

As of May 10, 2017:

 

  • An infant two years old or younger needs to be in a car seat that faces the rear until they reach the height and weight limit allowed by the manufacturer. The car seat needs to be secured in the back seat, not the front.
  • A child who is a minimum of two years old or who has outgrown the infant car seat must ride in a forward-facing car seat that has a harness. Again, the seat needs to be in the back passenger’s seat.
  • A child at least 4 years old who can no longer fit in a forward facing car seat must ride in a belt-positioning booster seat in the back seat of the vehicle until they reach the height and weight requirements for an adult safety belt. The booster seat must be used with both the lap and shoulder belt.
  • A child who’s at least 8 years old or 57 inches tall may use an adult safety belt if the lap belt fits across the thighs and not the abdomen, the shoulder belt lays across the center of the chest, and the child can sit with their back straight against the seat cushion. They must be able to bend their knees over the seat edge without slouching.
  • If the child has a documented medical condition that makes it impossible for him to ride in a standard car seat, the child may ride in a child passenger restraint system designed for his medical needs.
  • Any portion of a recreational vehicle that has temporary living quarters is considered a rear passenger’s seat.
  • If a vehicle doesn’t have rear passenger seats, or all the rear seating positions are taken by children under 8 years old, a child who’s less than 8 years old may ride in the front seat of a vehicle if they’re in a child passenger safety restraint system or belt-positioning booster seat.

Laws regarding special needs children

According to South Carolina law, any child who can’t ride in a normal car seat because of a medical condition may ride in a child safety restraint system designed for special needs children. Common medical conditions requiring special car seats include tracheostomies, spica casts, muscle tone abnormalities, and challenging behavior.

Laws regarding taxis, buses, Uber

Car seat laws do not apply to taxis and public transportation. It also doesn’t apply to drivers of emergency vehicles when they’re operating in an emergency situation, church, day care, and school bus drivers, or commercial vehicles.

Car Seat Programs

If you can’t afford a car seat, there is a program that can help.

Buckle Buddies Program

Prisma Health has a program called Buckle Buddies. It allows families in South Carolina to purchase car seats at cost on the fourth floors of the Richland and Baptist hospitals, at the Birthplace.

The program’s goal is to make new car seats available to families in South Carolina. They want to increase safe travel for children and reduce the risk of injury or death.

Details

It’s open to the general public, including patients that deliver at Prisma Health Hospitals.

There are two different discounts available when purchasing the seat. The Medicaid discount allows parents and children receiving Medicaid to receive a discount by showing their Medicaid card.

The educational discount allows anyone who attends one of their monthly child safety passenger classes to receive a discount. The discount may vary depending on what kind of seat the parent is purchasing.

Seats Available Through The Program

Infant carriers

You can get the Evenflo Embrace 35 for as little as $35 if you qualify for both discounts.

Convertible seats

You could get the Cosco Scenera or Evenflo Tribute for as little as $10 if you qualify for both discounts.

Forward facing/Booster seat combination

You could get either the Evenflo Surekid or a no-back booster seat. The Evenflo Surekid comes in two different styles – one used with a five-point harness and the other is used as a high-back booster. If you qualify for both discounts, you can get it for as little as $30.

For the no-back booster, depending on what they have in stock, you could get either the Juvenile Harmony or the Evenflo Big kid for as little as $5 if you qualify for both discounts.

All fabrics are gender-neutral. Check their website for more information on the discounts for the different models available, or contact them by email at bucklebuddies@prismahealth.org.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are the height and weight requirements for a booster seat?

The requirements vary depending on the manufacturer. Once the child outgrows their forward-facing car seat, they’re ready for a booster seat.

When can my child sit in the front seat?

A child can sit in the front seat in South Carolina when they reach 8 years old.

How long should a child ride rear-facing?

According to South Carolina law, children should stay rear-facing until age 2.

SC Car Seat Laws & Programs 

This is everything you need to know about South Carolina car seat laws and the programs available to help parents pay for car seats. It’s important that your child rides in a car seat until they’re old enough and big enough to fit in an adult safety belt. Car seats reduce the risk of injury to your child while they’re still too young to fit in an adult safety belt.

If you have any further questions about car seats, contact your doctor to get more information. The more information you have about the importance of having the correct car seat for your child at every age, the less chance there is that they’ll be seriously injured in a crash.