TRENTON, NJ - Effective September 1, 2015, legislation set in place revised parameters relative to the use of infant / child car seats in the Garden State. New Jersey guidelines currently mandate the following:
Newborn to Age 2
Children under age 2 and under 30 lbs. must be in a rear-facing car seat with a five-point harness. Toddlers who are tall or have long legs must remain rear-facing until age 2 even if their knees are bent and their feet are pressed against the back seat of the car.
Age 2 to 4
Children under age 4 and 40 lbs. must remain in either a rear-facing or a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness in the back seat of a vehicle.
Age 4 to 8
Children must remain in a car seat or a booster seat -- in the back seat of a vehicle -- until they are at least 8 years old or 57 inches tall. Once they reach that age or height, they are allowed to use regular adult seat belts.
Age 8 and up
Children can sit in a regular seat using a seat belt. However, the New Jersey law does not specify when children over age 8 can move from the back seat to the front seat. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children not sit in the front seat until age 13.
Front Seat Guidelines
If a vehicle does not have a back seat, such as a pick-up truck or a sports car, New Jersey law says a child can ride in the front seat in a car seat or a booster seat. The vehicle's passenger-side airbag must be disabled or shut off if a baby or toddler is using a rear-facing car seat strapped into the front seat of the vehicle. The force of air bags can injure small children if they deploy.
Monetary Penalties / Fines
The fines for violating the state's car seat law have risen from previous levels -- $10 to $25 -- to $50 to $75 under the new legislation. The law does not spell out how police would verify the age, height or weight of a child when issuing a ticket.
An individual can no longer state that they were following the manufacturer's weight and height recommendations for their car seat.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story said that the car seat rules were effective September 1, 2017. They were effective September 1, 2015. We apologize for the error.