TRENTON, NJ – New legislation went into effect September 1 that has changed the rules about using infant and child car seats in New Jersey.
The new law now requires that children under the age of two and 30 pounds or under must be in a rear-facing car seat with a five-point harness. Long legged toddlers must remain rear-facing until the age of two even if their feet are pressed against the rear seat, authorities said.
Children under the age of four and 40 pounds or under 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.
After the age of four a child can be placed into a car seat or booster seat in the back of a vehicle until the age of eight. When a child reaches 57 inches tall or the age of eight, they can use regular seat belts, police said.
Once children turn eight years old they can sit in a regular seat using a seat belt. New Jersey law does not state when a child can move from the back to the front seat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children should not sit in the front seat of any vehicle until the age of 13.
If your vehicle does not have a back seat, such as a sports car or a truck, New Jersey law says a child can ride in the front seat in a car seat or a booster seat. The passenger-side airbag must be disabled or shut off if an infant or toddler is strapped into the front seat of any vehicle. Injuries to small children can result from an airbag that has been deployed.
Fines for violating the new law have risen. New fines are $50 to $75, up from the previous $10-$25. The law does not specify how police would determine the age of weight of a child when issuing a ticket, police said.
The previous law had an exemption which would allow for an individual to say that they had been following the car seat manufacturer’s height and weight recommendations for their car seat. That exemption no longer exists under the new law.