What are the California Car Seat Laws?


Welcome to the California Car Seat Law Explained in Simple, Plain English!


You can probably think of better entertainment than looking up car seat laws for the state of California.


It’s our job as parents to keep our kids safe on the road. I know this all too well because I have 3 lovely angels (mostly when they are asleep, mostly…) as kids. Plus, we are traveling a lot, so I must keep myself informed.

Best of all, I have a paralegal background which helps me find the relevant laws in a second, and I can translate complex lawyer talk into something simple and actionable.

You see, this is why I’ve created this article to help out fellow parents. I promise you that I will stay away from lawyer jargon and only use language that can be easily understood by parents with the most severe sleep deprivation.

Maybe you need just a few simple answers for the most common questions, such as: what’s the booster seat law, when can a child sit in the front, do taxis need a car seat, and others. I have answered all these questions and more.

All you have to do is scroll.

Let’s get started already!



By reading this article you agree that it’s for informational purposes and I can’t be held liable for the best advice ask the appropriate person.


California Booster Seat Laws


According to the booster seat law for the state of California, a child can use a booster seat when they have outgrown their forward-facing car seat, which typically has a weight limit set to 65 pounds.

The booster seat has to be used until the age of 8 or reach a height of 57 inches. Then the child can transition to the seat belt.

If the child is under the age of 8, then the booster seat has to be installed on the back seat.


California Rear-facing Car Seat Laws

According to the law, kids below the age of two have to be secured in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat.

The child has to be in rear-facing until two or reaching 40 pounds or 40 inches.


California Forward-facing Car Seat Laws

According to the law, when the child has outgrown the rear-facing seat either by weight or height or has reached the age of 2, they can be upgraded to a forward-facing car seat.

This forward-facing car seat has to be installed in the back seat.


California Taxi Car Seat Laws

According to the law, taxis must follow the car seat laws stated above. The parent is responsible for getting the appropriate car seat for the child, and if they are not present, then the driver will be held responsible.


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

According to the law, kids under the age of 8 have to be secured in the back seat. If they are above 8 and their height is over 57 inches, they can sit in the front.

However, experts recommend that only kids above the age of 13 sit in the front seat.


California Car Seat Laws at a Glance

Here you can find the entire law in one place:

Car Seat Law (Section 27360 – 27368 of the Vehicle Code of California)

Law: All kids under the age of 8 have to be secured in the back seat with the appropriate car seat that has passed all federal safety standards.

  • If your child is under the age of 2, they have to be secured with a rear-facing car seat in the back seat unless they are above the 40-pound weight limit or 40” height limit.
  • Suppose your child is below 8 years old but is taller than 57 inches, then they can be secure with the seat belt in the back seat.
  • If your child is older than 8 years old, you can secure them with the appropriate car seat or seat belt, which offers the most protection.

Location in the car: According to the law, all kids under the age of 8 have to be secured in the back seat. Also, rear-facing car seats can’t be installed in the front of the airbag isn’t deactivated.

Taxi: Taxi are not exempt from the car seat laws mentioned above. This means that you have to bring your car seat or arrange one ahead of time.

RideSafer legal: Yes. The Ride Safer travel vest qualifies for children at least age 3 and 30 pounds.

Fines: $100 to $250

Seat Belt Law

  • Law: According to the law, all occupants have to wear a seat belt.
  • Fine: $162
  • RVs: The RV law is the same as the general seat belt law meaning all occupants have to wear a seat belt, and for kids, the car seat laws apply.


What is the law concerning Leaving kids in the Car in California?

According to the law, it’s illegal to leave any child under the age of 6 unattended in the vehicle. The only exception will be if there’s a 12-year-old or older in the car with them.


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

It’s illegal to smoke in a vehicle if a minor is present. There’s a $100 fine for every time someone is caught smoking while transporting a child.


Conclusions on California Car Seat Laws

We have reached the end of this article. I bet you have already found the answers you’ve been looking for. I’m glad that I could help.

Also, I kept my promise to keep the law simplified so anyone can understand it and apply it to keep their kids safe.

Now, maybe you have more questions. No problem, just get in touch, and I will sort you out.

Maybe you can help me out by sharing this post so other parents can know exactly how to keep their kids safe and avoid fines in the process. Thank You!


Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the weight requirements for a booster seat in California?

The weight requirement for a booster seat in California is 65 pounds. The upper weight limit is in the range of 80 to 120, depending on the brand and model.

Does my 8-year-old need a car seat in California?

No, according to the law, kids above the age of 8 don’t require a car seat or booster seat, and they can be secured with a seat belt.

When can a child stop using a car seat in California?

In California, a child can stop using a car seat if they are older than 8 or their height is above 57 inches. Although this is the minimum you have to make sure that the seat belt fits and protects as it should.

What are the age and weight requirements to sit in the front seat in California?

At the age of 8 or having a height of 57 inches would allow a child to sit in the front in the state of California. There’s no weight requirement.

Related: NV car seat laws

Who can help me to install a rear-facing car seat?

To install a rear-facing car seat you can always ask for help from a child passenger safety technician, California highway patrol, or fire station because they know how to use a child restraint system properly. A convertible car seat can be used as a rear-facing car seat if the height and weight limits aren’t over the maximum. When installing rear-facing car seats make sure to follow child car seat laws. In case you were wondering the infant car seat has to be installed on the rear seat. Don’t forget about the tether and the safety belt.

Related State: Oregon child seat laws

What does the California car seat laws say about booster seat?

The California car seat laws say the following about booster seats if your child is over 40 pounds and has 40″ height and weight limits you can use the booster seat. The California highway patrol is on the same wavelength as the California car seat laws. As your child grows you can opt for the safety belt (lap belt). You should only use the safety belt if it provides the necessary protection or go with the car seat safety seat. The lap belt can be used to secure a big enough child. For more info scroll up to the California car seat laws section.

Which are the best car seats for car seat safety?

The best car seats would be the ones that have been crash-tested and pass all federal safety requirements. On the market, there are only safe car seats the bad ones have been banned or recalled.

Last Updated on November 7, 2023 by Brian Beasley

Written by Linda Reid

Hey there, I'm Linda, a mom of three cool kids. I've tried so many car seats, you could call me a "Car Seat Detective." Searching for the perfect car seat can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but don't worry! I've committed to researching and reviewing car seats that are super safe, cozy, and great for growing kids. Together, we'll find the perfect car seat that keeps your child safe and cozy, and makes you feel like a super-parent!