California’s car seat law changed on January 1, 2017.

Babies must be in a rear-facing car seat until they are 2 years old, unless the child is more than 40 inches tall or 40 pounds or more.  Since most kids outgrow their rear-facing infant car seat by about a year old, parents will need to invest in a convertible car seat.

Because rear-facing is 5 times safer than forward-facing, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids ride rear-facing until they reach the weight or height limit of their car seat, according to the manufacturer. This could be beyond age 2.

In California, all kids under age 8 must ride in the back seat in a properly installed safety seat or booster seat. The seat must be appropriate for the child’s weight and height according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Kids over 8 must also ride in a booster seat until they are at least 4′-9″ (57″) tall AND an adult seat belt fits properly.

If a parent is in the vehicle when police determine that a child under 16 is not buckled up or in an appropriate car seat, the parent will receive the citation. If not, the driver will be ticketed.

Fines for infractions are stiff in California. For a first offense, the fine can be more than $500 per child, plus a driver’s license point. A second offense will cost more that double that, per child.

You may want to check out the links below for more details.

Local and State Resources for California Car Seat Laws

California Dept of Public Health – Child Passenger Safety – California car seat and booster seat laws and fines – California car seat and booster seat use FAQs – carseat and booster seat informational PDF (English) – carseat and booster seat informational PDF (Spanish) – California resources for safe installation and use of car seats and booster seats

California Highway Patrol – links to car seat information in Russian and Chinese, Calfornia laws, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

National Resources for California Car Seat and Booster Seat Laws  – U.S. Department of Transportation / National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website – The NHTSA publishes this site. Parents Central is the child safety section. This is a great info packed site, so if you have questions about almost anything related to car seats or booster seats, definitely check this one out. – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, child safety page – A global organization about keeping children safe, especially from preventable injuries or fatalities. Their site includes tips on car seat choice and car seat inspection events, among other things.