Under the booster and car seat laws of South Carolina, children who are younger than eight years of age must use a child passenger restraint system whenever they ride in a motor vehicle. When drivers use an appropriately fitted car or booster seat for their children, they greatly reduce the risk of traffic-related fatalities and injuries in auto accidents. For instance, a child car seat can reduce traffic-related fatalities by 54 percent for toddler passengers and 71 percent for infants.

In addition to these car and booster seat laws in SC, children must ride in the back seat of a motor vehicle until they turn eight years of age unless the vehicle does not contain rear seats or the rear seats are occupied by other child passengers. If motorists violate these laws, then they will need to pay a penalty fee. To learn more about these laws, review the information below.

What are the car seat laws in South Carolina?

Motorists must meet the South Carolina car seat requirements whenever they ride in a motor vehicle with a child passenger who is younger than eight years of age. Drivers who operate a vehicle with an unrestrained minor may be subject to a traffic ticket if stopped by a law enforcement officer. As part of these child car seat laws, for instance:

  • Babies or toddlers who are younger than two years of age must use a rear-facing infant seat until they exceed the product manufacturer’s height and weight recommendations.
  • Children who outgrow their infant car seat or those who are at least two years of age may use a forward-facing seat with a harness until they outgrow the product manufacturer’s height and weight recommendations.
  • Children who outgrow their forward facing car seat or those who are at least four years of age may use a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt until they can safely fit into an adult seat belt.
  • Children who are at least 57 inches tall or eight years of age may use an adult safety belt if the lap belt can fit snugly across their thighs and hips and the shoulder belt can rest against their chest. Additionally, they must be able to sit with their back against the cushion of the vehicle and their knees bent over the seat.

In addition to these car and booster seat requirements, children who are younger than eight years of age must ride in the rear seat of a motor vehicle, unless the car does not contain rear seats. Moreover, a child may ride in the front seat of a motor vehicle if the car’s rear seats are occupied by other children who are younger than eight years of age.

Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in South Carolina

If motorists violate these car seat rules in South Carolina, they will be subject to paying a traffic ticket with a $150 fine. However, this penalty fee does not apply to church, school or daycare buses, taxis and other vehicles driven by motorists with a commercial driver’s license.

Types of Car Seats

While most car and booster seat weight and height restrictions vary by manufacturer, children generally need to use a restraint system whenever they ride in a motor vehicle. Under the SC car seat law, children may use seats such as:

  • A rear facing car seat if they are younger than two years of age. These types of seats are often known as baby or infant seats. However, convertible seats are also available, as these types of safety devices can be installed to face the front or back of a motor vehicle.
  • A forward-facing seat with a harness if they are at least two years of age or do not fit into a rear-facing seat. Forward-facing seats are available as convertible, combination and all-in-one seats.
  • A child booster seat if they are at least four years of age or do not fit into a car seat. While combination or all-in-one car seats can also be used as a booster seat, other types of boosters are available in high-back or backless models.

When children outgrow a car or booster seat, they must use an adult seat belt.

Some of the best car seats, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are available from brands such as Baby Trend, Britax, Doona and GB. For instance, several of the safest car seats for children include the Baby Trend Inertia rear-facing seat, Britax Advocate ClickTight front-facing seat, Doona Infant Seat and the GB Asana 35 rear-facing seat.

Car Seat Installation Information

Car seat installations vary by vehicle and car seat type. For this reason, motorists must refer to their vehicle’s ownership manual and their car or booster seat installation instructions for specific information. However, the following tips can help to simplify the installation process:

  • While infant car seats must be positioned toward the back of a motor vehicle, convertible seats may face the front or rear of a vehicle, depending on the child’s age, height and weight
  • When installing a baby car seat, the harness straps must sit at or below the child’s shoulders, and the harness clip must remain at armpit level
  • Install rear-facing seats at a slight recline
  • To install a forward-facing seat with a tether strap, secure the strap to the vehicle’s tether anchor
  • When installing a booster seat, the shoulder strap must rest against the child’s chest and shoulder, and the lap belt must rest against the child’s upper thighs

To obtain car seat installation assistance, residents may contact their local fire department to schedule an appointment. On the day of the installation, motorists must bring their car seat and vehicle manual, and their child must accompany them to the appointment.

Last updated on Friday, November 9 2018.

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