California Seat Belt Laws

Every state has seat belt laws. You must have your seat belt fastened while on the road for your safety and to avoid fines and other penalties. However, state laws may handle specific seat belt laws differently, particularly pertaining to children.

Woman buckling her seat belt

The Laws

The seat belt laws in California include wearing your seat belt when operating the vehicle. This law not only applies to the driver but to any passengers as well. Properly wearing one's seat belt can ensure the most chances of survival in the event of a collision. Wear the shoulder harness over your arm, not under or behind your back. Make sure your lap belt feels snug as well. If pregnant, keep the lap belt under the abdomen as low as possible, and ensure that the shoulder strap is between your breasts.

Not wearing your seat belt can increase your chances of severe injury or death during an accident, and you could be fined $162 if law enforcement catches you.

If you have a child under 16 not wearing their seat belt, you could also be fined for that. The fine for an unrestrained child triples to $490, making it a costly mistake. Not only that, but you put your children at risk for severe injury or death. 

Properly Buckling Up Your Child

If you have a younger child, they may need a restraint system or safety belt federally approved to fasten them.

If your child is under 2 years old, you must secure them in a rear-facing restraint system. The exception is if the child is over 40 pounds or over 3 feet, 4 inches. Rear-facing restraints must be in the back and never in the front.

If your child is under 8 or under 4 feet, 9 inches, you must secure them in a child passenger restraint system that is federally approved. In addition, they must be in the rear seat. Children over 8 or over 4 feet, and 8 inches can use a standard safety belt.

However, there are exceptions to the rear seat law. For example, if your car has no rear seat or only has side-facing or rear-facing seats. Also, if your restraint system cannot be installed in the rear seat, or children under 8 years old are already occupying the rear seat, they can sit in the front seat. Some medical reasons also may require a child to sit in the front.

Final Words

Like any other state, California requires you to click it or ticket. In addition, parents of young children should make sure they are following the child restraint laws. Doing so can avoid heavy fines and points toward your license as well as ensure your child’s safety when you are out driving on California’s roads.

If driving in another state with a young child, also make sure they comply with those state laws, as they can be different from what California has on the books.

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