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Colorado Car Seat Law

December 23, 2019

Proper child restraint in motor vehicles should be a top priority for all drivers, parents and guardians transporting young children. Child safety restraint systems are scientifically proven to reduce the risk of injuries to child passengers in car accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that car seats reduce the risk of child injury in a crash by 71% to 82% compared to seat belt use alone. Colorado law has child car seat regulations in place to help encourage use.

Child in a car seat

Car Seats Required Until Age 8

Colorado’s safety restraint law for children requires all children under 16 years old to wear seat belts or use other safety devices, as age-appropriate. Unlike the law for adult riders, it does not matter where the child is sitting in the vehicle. Front seat or back seat, the child passenger must use a safety restraint system. Adult riders only have to wear seat belts in Colorado in the front seat. Children under the age of 8 must ride in child safety seats rather than using seat belts.

Which Car Seat Is Correct?

A driver cannot lawfully put a child in just any car safety seat in Colorado. Rules are in place for which car seat systems a guardian must use at different stages of a child’s life, growth and development. Obeying these rules is critical for the safety of the child, as the wrong seat will not restrain a child properly to minimize the risk of injuries in a crash. Colorado’s car seat law has different guidelines for each age group.

  • Less than a year old. From newborn to one year old (and weighing less than 20 pounds), a child should sit in a rear-facing car seat for the greatest protection in a crash. The rear-facing seat should sit in the back seat of the vehicle, not the front seat.
  • One to four years old. A child that is one to four years old and weighing 20 to 40 pounds should sit in a forward-facing car seat. Proper securement in one of these child restraint seats could help the child avoid serious injuries in a crash.
  • Up to eight years old. A child who weighs at least 40 pounds should transition to a booster seat, as long as he or she is tall enough to meet the booster seat’s requirements. The child should stay in a booster seat until he or she is eight years old and at least 4’9.”
  • Ages 8 to 15. From ages 8 to 15, a child should use a standard adult seat belt while in a motor vehicle. Children and adults of all ages should wear their seat belts for safety purposes, but it is only legally mandatory for children under 16 to wear seat belts in the back seat.

The only exceptions to the child safety seat law are if the driver is transporting the child for a life-threatening emergency and no child restraint system is available, if a child care center is transporting the child in a commercial motor vehicle, or if the child is being transported in a vehicle operated by a contract carrier, luxury limo service or common carrier. The state’s car seat laws have primary enforcement, meaning the police can pull a driver over for this offense alone. The ticket for failing to properly secure a child in a car seat is $65 plus a $6 surcharge.

Car Seat Tips

As a parent or guardian, make sure the car safety seat you purchase for your child is appropriate for his or her age, height and weight. Read the instructions that come with the car seat for measurement maximums and minimums. Keep your child in each type of car seat for as long as possible, until he or she meets the maximum limits.

Avoid purchasing a used or secondhand car seat, as it could have wear and tear that compromises its ability to properly protect the infant. Check the car seat for recalls before installation. Places such as children’s hospitals offer free car seat inspection stations to ensure you have properly installed your car seat and are using it correctly. Obey Colorado’s car seat laws for the best protection and to optimize your child’s vehicle safety.

In the unfortunate event of a car accident involving your child, it is crucial to seek the expertise of a Denver car accident attorney.