Washington State is one of the leading states in child car seat use, with over 85% of kids using them properly. However, there are still some parents who have not yet learned about the importance of using car seats correctly. 

A child restraint is the safest way to transport your baby or toddler in the car. According to the government, children should always be properly secured in their child restraints whenever they are being transported in any vehicle. Here’s a guide on Washington Car Seats Law to make sure that your children are safe on all their trips.

Washington Car Seat Law

Washington Car Seat Laws

According to the child restrain law of Washington,

“Whenever a child who is less than sixteen years of age is being transported in a motor vehicle that is in operation and that is required by RCW 46.37.510 to be equipped with a safety belt system in a passenger seating position, or is being transported in a neighborhood electric vehicle or medium-speed electric vehicle that is in operation, the driver of the vehicle shall keep the child properly restrained”

Washington Car Seat Laws

Washington Rear-facing Car Seat Law

Under Washington law, children under the age of two must ride in rear-facing child safety seats. Children may also ride in rear-facing seats until they reach the manufacturer’s weight and height restrictions. Newborns and infants are safest when placed in the rear-facing position.

Washington Forward-facing Car Seat Law

When a child has outgrown the weight and height restrictions of rear-facing car seats, they should be switched to a forward-facing seat and kept using it until they are comfortable in it and reach the height and weight requirements.

Washington booster seat law for young kids

In Washington, children must use booster seats until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall. In most situations, this translates to kids between the ages of 10 and 12 riding in a booster seat. Boosters are a must-have for kids who have outgrown rear-facing and forward-facing car seats. A belt-positioning booster seat is required until the car lap-and-shoulder seat belt fits the child.

Children in Washington state are required to use booster seats with both a lap and shoulder belt, not just one or the other. Lap and shoulder belts keep your child from escaping out of the booster seat or sitting incorrectly. If your kid isn’t sitting up straight, then the whole purpose of a booster seat is wasted.

There are 2 types of booster seats:

  • High-back booster seats – If your car’s seat back is lower than your child’s ears, you have to use a high-back booster seat to protect your child’s head and neck.
  • Backless booster seats – If your car’s seat back is higher than your child’s ears, you can use a backless booster seat.

Requirements for children to use the front seat in Washington 

In New York, children under the age of 13 must ride in the back seat. However, if you must use a child safety seat in the front passenger seat or transport a kid there, make sure to deactivate the passenger-side airbags.

If you are confused about whether your child should use a booster seat or an adult seat belt only, this simple test will help you decide.

The Five-Step Seat Belt Fit Test:

  1. Is the child able to sit all of the way back against the auto seat?
  2. Are the child’s knees able to bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat?
  3. Is the belt crossing over the shoulder between the neck and arm?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, with the thighs?
  5. Is it possible for the child to remain in this position the whole journey?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your kid is not ready for an adult seat belt and still requires a booster seat to travel safely in the car. Boosters are popular with kids since they are more comfortable!

Taxi Car Seat Law in Washington 

It is not clear whether cabs are required to follow these regulations in Washington. However, it is their primary responsibility to allow parents to install child safety equipment if they want. and parents should bring appropriate car seats for their children when they are traveling in a taxi.

Washington car seat replacement law after Accident

There is no specific legislation mandating the replacement of car seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on the other hand, recommends that car seats be replaced following a moderate or severe accident. After their expiration dates have passed, car seats should also be replaced.

NHTSA recommends that car seats be replaced following a moderate or severe crash in order to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for child passengers. Car seats do not automatically need to be replaced following a minor crash.”

Law on leaving a child in a car in Washington 

It is illegal to leave a child under the age of 16 years unsupervised inside a vehicle.

Penalties For Violating Washington Car Seat Laws

You may be fined if you are caught violating the child passenger safety or restraint laws. If you’re caught driving with a child passenger without using an approved child passenger restraint system, your traffic ticket will be dismissed if you show proof of purchase of an acceptable approved child passenger restraint system or child booster seat to the authority within seven days.

A traffic violation reported in your driver’s abstract, such as driving while using a cell phone, will not be shown to insurance firms or employers.

When Can My Child Sit in the Front Seat in Washington?

Under the Washington Vehicle Code, all persons under the age of 13 must sit in the rear.

Is it Illegal to Smoke in a Car with a Child in Washington?

There is no law regarding smoking in a vehicle with children present.

We do not believe it is a good idea to smoke in your car when there are children inside. Secondhand smoke is dangerous, and it’s best to avoid smoking in a vehicle with a kid sitting inside. Secondhand smoke exposure causes a variety of illnesses in children, including asthma and pneumonia, as well as thousands of preventable hospitalizations. Secondhand smoke causes SIDS and can cause lung cancer and heart attacks if exposed over time.

Child passenger safety related videos Washington 

New car seat restrictions in Washington

Washington updates car-seat law to boost child protection

The car seat safety check that could save your child’s life

Car Seat Safety By Age: Infants in Rear-facing

USA Child Passenger Safety Laws by State


Click on your state on the map below to see your state’s car seat law

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