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Washington State Car Seat Laws | Booster Seat Laws (2020)

Updated on: 11/14/2019

Changes are coming in 2020 to Washington state’s child car seat laws. 

Under the new law, children shorter than 4 feet 9 inches must sit in a booster seat, regardless of age. Under the old law, only children under the age of 8 were required to sit in a car seat or booster seat.

Under the new law, some children will still be in booster seats when they hit middle school. 

Washington State Car Seat Laws (Beginning 2020)

The following Washington state car seat regulations go into law beginning January 1, 2020:

  • Children under age 2 must use rear-facing car seats. Children should remain in a rear-facing car safety seat for 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 for as long as possible, until they reach the height and weight limits of the particular seat. Many seats can accommodate children up to 65 pounds.
  • Children older than age 4 but shorter than 4-foot-9 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.
  • Children under 13 years old must sit in the back seat of the vehicle.
  • 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.

Violators of the law can be cited with a traffic violation, though the amount of the ticket isn’t specified. The law does not apply to for-hire vehicles, buses or shuttles.

The changes to Washington state’s law align with the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, issued in 2011.

Infographic: Washington Car Seat Laws

car seat laws infographic

Where a child is sitting while they are inside the vehicle can also make a big difference in the event of a car accident. Airbags and dashboards can be potential injury hazards for children and can also be contributing factors to specific types of injuries such as traumatic brain injuries.

Children are much more prone to being seriously injured than adults, particularly in the event of a car accident. This is one of the main reasons that Washington state has enacted several laws requiring children to be restrained appropriately — whether it be by a seat belt, child seat or booster seat — at all times while they are traveling inside of a motor vehicle.

Seat belts, child car seats, and other child safety restraints are proven in saving lives and reducing the severity of injuries to young and vulnerable passengers. While everyone should realize the benefits of using proper safety restraints, legislation can provide an additional incentive for parents in joining the fight to prevent injuries to children in Washington. 

Child Car Seats Can Reduce Injuries from an Accident

Studies have shown that younger children are better protected from serious injury in the event of a car accident when they are seated in the rear of a vehicle as opposed to the front, and this guideline helps ensure that a child is not unnecessarily put at risk of injury while traveling in the car.

Once a child is old enough to move from using a booster seat or child seat to the regular seat belt system, they should always be restrained by both the shoulder and lap belts. This helps ensure that all parts of a child’s body are adequately protected should the vehicle be involved in an accident.

Experts say that parents should not be in a rush to graduate a child from a booster seat or child seat too soon, as there are certain instances where a child may not be physically ready to be moved into the front seat.

Seattle Child Injury Attorneys

When a child is hurt in an auto accident, the resulting case can be particularly sensitive. The impact of a severe injury on a young person’s life can be devastating — and pursuing compensation for the damage requires a great deal of care. 

At Davis Law Group, our legal team has the necessary experience, knowledge and resources to handle complex child injury cases. We will identify the at fault parties, sort out the available insurance issues, negotiate with the insurance companies, and reach a successful settlement or jury verdict for your family. 

To schedule a free and detailed consultation with one of our Seattle personal injury lawyers about your child’s injury claim, contact our office today. Let us put our team of trusted legal professionals, independent investigators, and medical experts to work on your child’s case immediately.

Call (206) 727-4000, use the chat feature below or fill out the form on this page to get started.

Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.
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