Washington state’s revised car-seat and booster-seat law begins on Wednesday, Jan. 1.
The Legislature adopted the changes during the 2019 session.
Under the revised law:
• Children under age 2 must use rear-facing car seats. Children should remain in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
• Children ages 2 to at least 4 years should use a forward-facing, age-appropriate child harness seat – and do so as long as possible, until they reach the seat’s height and weight limits. Many seats can accommodate children up to 65 pounds.
• Children older than 4 but shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches who have outgrown the child harness seat must use booster seats. Most kids will need a booster seat until 10 to 12 years of age.
• When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should use lap and shoulder seat belts for optimal protection.
As with the previous law, drivers can be ticketed ($124) if a passenger under 16 is not using the correct car seat, booster seat, or seat belt based on their age, height or weight.
“These changes will help parents protect their children on the road,” said Dr. Beth Ebel, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine and member of the Washington State American Academy of Pediatrics, in a UW Medicine news release. “This change brings us in line with current best thinking about keeping kids safe.”