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What Are The Booster Seat Laws in Pennsylvania?

Posted on August 8, 2022

Once car seats are outgrown, children are still not ready for adult seat belts. Local child passenger safety laws require these kids to travel in booster seats, typically until 8 years old.

Pennsylvania Booster Seat Law

Children who are at least four years old and 40 pounds can ride in a booster seat and must do so until they either reach 8 years old, 57″, or 80 pounds. The booster seat manufacturer’s minimum and maximum size requirements should also be followed. For example, most manufacturers require a minimum of 4 years old, 40″ tall, and 40 pounds to sit in a booster seat. Kids under 40 pounds should still ride in a harnessed car seat.

Children between 4 and 8 who must ride in a vehicle with only lap belts are allowed to use them or can continue to ride in a harnessed car seat within manufacturer height and weight limits. Keep in mind that a harnessed car seat would be the safest option in this situation, as adult seat belts do not fit most children properly until they reach 10 to 12 years of age.

Penalties for Violating Pennsylvania’s Booster Seat Law

If you fail to use a booster seat for a child when required by law, a police officer can stop you for non-compliance with the Child Passenger Protection Law for children ages 4 to 8. The ticket is $75, plus court costs, a $45 surcharge, $10 to the EMS Fund, and $10 for administrative fees. However, the fine can be dismissed if you provide proof that you have acquired the appropriate booster seat before or at your hearing—for example, you can mail the appropriate court officer a receipt, a notarized letter of transferal from another child seat owner, or bailment from a bona fide child seat loaner program.

When Can Kids Ride In the Front Seat In Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania does not have a law on when kids can ride in the front seat, but many car manufacturers specify that children should ride in the back until age 13. Not only are their bodies not fully developed for seatbelts until then, but studies also show that children sustain more severe injuries in a car accident when sitting in the front seat compared to the backseat. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warns that airbags also present their own dangers and can cause severe injuries or even death  in children riding in the front seat.

Booster Seat Tips

  • Ensure the booster seat is properly installed in the backseat by checking the user manual and following instructions. The lap portion of the seat belt should lay across the child’s hips and the shoulder belt over the collar bone.
  • Never use a lap-only seat belt with a booster seat.
  • Double check that the child is wearing the seat belt correctly. The shoulder portion of the seat belt should never go under a child’s arm or behind their back.
  • Always move the booster seat with your child if they are traveling in a different car that does not have one.
  • Register the booster seat to be notified of recalls.