California are discussed in Vehicle Code 27360 VC. The law very clearly states that children who are under 8 years old must be in the rear set of the vehicle and properly restrained. The same law also states that any child who is two years old or younger not only must be contained in a car seat but that the car seat has to be in the back seat and it must be a rear-facing car seat. These car seats must meet federal regulations.
“A parent, legal guardian, or driver who transports a child under eight years of age on a highway in a motor vehicle, as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 27315, shall properly secure that child in a rear seat in an appropriate child passenger restraint system meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards. (b) Except as provided in Section 27363, a parent, legal guardian, or driver who transports a child under two years of age on a highway in a motor vehicle, as defined in paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 27315, shall properly secure the child in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system that meets applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards, unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches tall. The child shall be secured in a manner that complies with the height and weight limits specified by the manufacturer of the child passenger restraint system.”
If you don’t have your child properly restrained in a car seat, you will be issued a ticket. This ticket is an infraction so it won’t result in a criminal record. The first time you receive a ticket for not having your child properly restrained in the car, you’ll have to pay a $100 fine. Every time after the initial offense, the fine will be $250.
Getting a ticket for not having your child properly restrained in the car could be just the start of your legal problem. Depending on the situation, the officer who pulled you over could decide that your decision to not have the child properly restrained and the way you’re driving is worth filing child endangerment charges against. It’s also possible that a history of driving without having your child properly restrained could negatively impact any child custody case you’re involved with.
Simply having your child strapped into a car seat is not going to be good enough. Not only does the child have to be strapped in properly, but the car seat must be in good repair and it must be safely attached to your car. In most areas, the local fire department will help you set up your car seat so that it’s safe and secure.