Illinois Car Seat Laws
Car seat laws in Illinois are written under the Child Passenger Protection Act, which is designed to ensure the safety of the state’s youngest and most vulnerable vehicle passengers.
Understanding the booster seat laws and car seat requirements for IL is vital, even if you do not live in the state but will be driving through. Any driver with a passenger meeting the legal requirements stated below will be held responsible under IL law.
Car seat safety is the responsibility of every driver who is transporting a child passenger. Be sure to confirm the booster seat age requirements for older children, as well as the car seat ages listed below. The transition between types of child safety restraints can vary based on weight and height, but there are specific legal requirements for age as well.
Researching the law will help you to make sure that your children passengers are as safe as possible and that you will not face any fines or penalties for failing to properly follow the law.
What are the car seat laws in Illinois?
Child car seat laws in Illinois are primarily based on age, with all drivers who are transporting children younger than eight years old being required to properly restrain those children. This could mean utilizing a car seat or a booster seat, based upon the age, weight and height of the child.
Children between the ages of eight and 16 are legally required to use a seatbelt, the oversight of which is also the driver’s responsibility.
Under booster seat weight requirements, the law states that, in vehicles that only have a lap belt in the back seat, it is acceptable for children weighing more than 40 pounds to use the lap belt. However, if a combination lap and shoulder seat belt is available, that child must use a booster seat instead. Booster seats have to be installed using the combination lap and shoulder belts.
The car seat weight or booster seat weight limits indicated by the manufacturer of a child restraint system must be followed diligently, in combination with the legal requirements.
Note that any car seat or booster seat designed to restrain, seat or correctly position a child and that is approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation will be considered an appropriate child restraint system by law.
Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in Illinois
Any driver who fails to follow the child car seat safety rules set forth by the state is subject to a penalty fine, as well as court supervision for a properly installed child restraint system. An instructional course on using that system might also be required. A subsequent violation of these laws will result in a fine of $200.
Note that the parent or the legal guardian of any child younger than eight years old is required to provide an appropriate child restraint system to any other driver who transports his or her child. If you are babysitting and need to drive someone else’s child, make sure you understand the booster car seat age and all other requirements before getting into the vehicle, and make sure you correctly install the appropriate seat into your own car if the child will be with you.
Types of Car Seats
The best car seats to use tend to be made by the most popular brands on the market today, including Chicco, Evenflo and Graco. These brands are often rated among the safest car seats, but you should certainly confirm current ratings and testing before making a purchase. Generally, the most common types of car and booster seats available are the following:
- Rear Facing Car Seat: Sometimes referred to as an infant car seat, a rear facing seat is advised for all newborns up through two years of age. In Illinois, any child younger than two is required to sit in a rear facing seat, unless that child weighs more than 40 pounds or is taller than 40 inches.
- Forward Facing Car Seat: Children who outgrow the rear facing seat option should then switch to a forward-facing seat. Forward facing seats and booster seats are both acceptable in Illinois after the age of two.
- Convertible Car Seat: These seats can be used as both rear facing and forward-facing positions, so you can keep using the same seat for more years, depending on weight and height limits, plus any expiration date on the seat.
- Booster Car Seat: A booster seat can generally be used for children after the age of four and until the child can safely use a regular seat belt. This means that the child can sit on the seat with his or her back against the seat back while his or her knees are comfortably bent over the seat edge. It also means that the shoulder strap of a seat belt is across the shoulder, not the face and not behind the arm.
Car Seat Installation Information
Doing the car seat installation can be a real challenge for many people, so do not worry if you have difficulty. There are car seat safety inspection stations throughout the state, often at fire stations or medical clinics, where you can get extra help and guidance. Here are some general tips for installing a car seat:
- Read and Understand: Carefully and thoroughly read the instructions for how to install a car seat that are provided with your purchase. Visit an inspection station for extra help if you do not understand what to do.
- Buy the Right Seat: Choose a child car seat based on the weight and height of your child, as well as on your specific vehicle.
- Safest Car Seat Installation: The safest spot to install a car seat is in the center of the back seat of your vehicle. Never install a rear facing seat in the front where there is an active airbag.
- Check it Again: Always double-check that both the car seat and the harness are tight every time you use the seat. The seat should not move more than one inch in any direction as you pull it.