Washington car seat laws state that children under 8 years old must ride in a child safety seat appropriate for their age, weight, and height. The seat must be installed correctly according to both the car seat manufacturer’s instructions and the vehicle manual.
Children over 4′-9″ (57″) tall, and children 8 years or older, may ride using just a seat belt, if it fits properly. The lap belt should fit at the hips, avoiding the stomach. The shoulder belt should cross at the shoulder, without touching the neck or face. And your child must be able to sit comfortably against the seat back, without slouching, with his or her knees bent at the seat front.
In Washington, all people in a vehicle are required to buckle up. Children under 16 must buckle up or ride in the proper safety seat for their age, weight and height. The fine for either infraction is $124. The penalty for a car seat infraction could be waived if the driver can show proof that an appropriate car seat has been obtained within 7 days of the infraction.
See the links below for details about car seat and booster seat laws in Washington. There is also information on best practices for car seat safety.
State Resources for Washington Car Seat Laws
Washington Traffic Safety Commission – Car seat laws
Washington Traffic Safety Commission – Car seat installation checks (bottom of page)
KingCounty.gov – Washington car seat and seatbelt laws and fines
Federal Resources for Washington Child Passenger Safety Laws
nhtsa.gov – U.S. Department of Transportation / National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website
safercar.gov – Also known as Parents Central, this is the child safety section of the safercar.gov website, published through the NHTSA. This is an awesome info packed site, so if you have general questions, definitely stop here.
iihs.org – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, child safety page
safekids.org – A global organization all about keeping kids safe, especially from preventable injuries or fatalities. Their site includes tips on car seat choice and car seat inspection events, among other things.