Maine Car Seat Laws
Car seat laws in Maine require all children younger than eight years old to use the appropriate child restraint system for their size and age. Booster seat laws are included within the broader law, since booster seats are considered to be federally-approved child restraint systems.
It is important for every driver in Maine who will be transporting a child passenger to understand these laws, even non-residents and even if you are not the parent of a child. The child car seat laws apply to all drivers in the state with any child passenger.
Booster seat weight restrictions, plus limits for car seat weight, are always set according to a manufacturer, but it is also important to understand the requirements according to state law. In Maine, both the weight and the age of a child can be taken into account for meeting the legal requirements of child passenger safety.
You should always review the manufacturer’s details for the seat you purchase in conjunction with the law in order to keep your child as safe as possible while riding in a vehicle.
What are the car seat laws in Maine?
The laws for car seat safety in Maine are broken down into age and weight groups that highlight the minimums your child must reach before you can change to a new seating position. The following are the basic legal requirements for car seat ages:
- A child car seat is required for all children who weigh less than 40 pounds.
- A federally-approved car seat or child booster seat must be used by all children who weigh between 40 and 79 pounds and who are younger than eight years old. The booster seat age requirement ends at eight years old, but any child who cannot yet safely use a regular seat belt should continue to use the booster seat option, regardless of age.
- Any child who is taller than 4 feet 9 inches is no longer required to use a child restraint system but is required use a regular seat belt.
- All children younger than 12 years old and who weigh less than 100 pounds are required to sit in the back seat of a vehicle, if possible.
Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in Maine
Violations of the rules for child car seat safety in Maine can result in a traffic infraction, which means you will have to pay a penalty fine. If you are caught violating the laws a second or a third time, your fines will increase by at least double each time.
Unlike in some other states, the courts cannot waive your fine if you prove that you have since obtained the appropriate child restraint system. Therefore, it is best to make sure you comply with the Maine car seat law from the very beginning in order to avoid having to pay a penalty, as well as keeping your child as safe as possible. These laws were written with extensive testing and guidance to ensure child passengers’ safety.
Types of Car Seats
The safest car seats are evaluated on a regular basis by both the government and by multiple consumer protection agencies or organizations. You can always check the best car seats available through those ratings systems to ensure that you purchase a quality seat.
Many of the most popular brands, such as Chicco, Evenflo and Graco, are frequently at the top of those ratings, but be sure to check before you buy in case there are any changes.
When looking at car seat types, it is important to know the various types available. A rear facing car seat, also called an infant car seat, is recommended for all children for the first two years. You should always check the weight and height limits for a rear facing seat.
You can switch to a forward facing car seat once your child outgrows the rear facing option. It is recommended that you keep your child in a rear facing seat for as long as possible, according to the manufacturer’s recommended limits.
A convertible car seat can be used as both a rear facing seat and a forward facing seat, allowing your child to use this type of seat for a longer period of time. The weight limits can also often be higher in a convertible option to keep your child rear facing for longer.
The booster car seat age typically begins around 4 years old, but it is more dependent upon the weight and height of the child. In Maine, booster seat weight requirements and height requirements cover the legal minimums, but the most important consideration is your child’s safety.
Regardless of age, your child should continue to use a child booster seat in the back seat of your car until a regular seat belt can be used safely. This means that the child can sit comfortably with his or her back against the seat and knees bent over the seat edge, with the shoulder strap of the seat belt resting on the shoulder and not across the face or behind the arm.
Car Seat Installation Information
Correctly installing a car seat can be difficult for all new parents, so do not hesitate to visit a local installation inspection station for extra help. Most fire stations and some other locations throughout Maine will offer guidance as needed, since incorrectly installing a car seat can lead to disastrous consequences in a car accident. The following tips for how to install a car seat might also prove to be useful:
- Read the entire car seat instruction manual for the car seat or booster seat you bought.
- Also review the relevant section of your vehicle owner’s manual on car seat installation.
- Register your seat, if possible, so you can be notified of any recalls or concerns with your car seat.
- Install a car seat in the center seat in the back seat of your vehicle for the safest spot.
- Pull the seat in all directions after installation. It should not move more than an inch in any direction.
- Carefully monitor the weight and height restrictions to adjust your child’s seat as necessary.