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New York Car Seat Laws

Joanne Stene
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by Joanne Stene

One of your jobs as a parent or caregiver is to keep your child safe while riding in a vehicle. A child’s body is still growing and developing, and children under the age of 12 do not have adequate protection with the standard seat belt options.

The laws can vary from state to state. It is essential that if you plan on traveling outside of your region that you research ahead for any additional car seat requirements. If you are a new parent, keeping up to date on the current New York car seat laws will ensure that your child is safe and you avoid any penalties.

Depending on their age, height, and weight, the child will require different vehicle safety restraints. Each stage is to provide the best protection possible and avoid injury or death in the case of an accident.

Welcome to new york

What are the New York Car Seat Laws?

In the State of New York, all children must ride in approved restraining seats until their 8th birthday. That does not mean that one model will carry them through their childhood, unfortunately. With each stage, there are different NY car seat laws.

Infants and toddlers are to be in approved safety seats. Children 4 years of age to 8 years old require the use of a booster seat while traveling. Children under the age of 16 must use the available seat belts in the vehicle.

New York car seat laws recognize several types of child restraint systems, including:

  • Rear-Facing infant seats
  • Forward-Facing convertible seats
  • Booster seats
  • Child safety vests

NY Car Seat Laws For Infant and Toddlers

Rear facing seat

The NY car seat laws outline infants and toddlers are required to ride in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, or until at least the age of 2. If your child is still under the height and weight requirements to be safe and secure past the age of 2, they should remain rear-facing.

These seats are typically for babies that are 22 pounds or less and a length of 25 inches or less. If your child grows past the manufacturer’s seat recommendations before the age of 2, they will need a new convertible seat. These seats can properly secure them in the rear-facing position until they reach the age of 2.

You should always install rear-facing seats in the back of a vehicle, never in the front. It is especially dangerous in the front seat when airbags are present.

NY Forward-Facing Car Seat Law

front facing

Between the ages of 2 and 4 years old, your child will outgrow their infant seat to require a convertible car seat. They should use these safety seat models as long as possible since they contain a harness system to provide the best protection possible while facing forwards in a vehicle.

Convertible models are for children over 22 pounds and up to 40 pounds. These types will still require installation in the back of the vehicle, and you should never place them in the front seat. They will have various ways to adjust the harness as your child grows to ensure the best fit possible.

NY child seat laws state you should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the height and weight restrictions for your child’s car seat.

NY Booster Seat Laws


The booster seat laws in NY require older children between 40 and 80 pounds use an approved restraining system while riding in a vehicle. Typically, this will mean any child between the ages of 4 to 8 years of age, and less than 4 feet 9 inches, will need a booster seat.

If your child is over the age of 8 but is still smaller than 80 pounds and less than 4 feet 9 inches, they should still use a proper booster seat to ensure their safety. There are some styles available that will fit children up to age 12, depending on their height and weight.

You must always use both the shoulder and lap belts in the vehicle with a booster seat since a lap belt alone will not secure your child correctly. They should continue to use this style until they are large enough to use the shoulder and lap belt without any modification from a booster.

Built-In Child Car Seats

Car seat installation

Some makes and models of vehicles will have built-in child car seats. These fold out from inside the seat, helping to position your child in the correct spot to use the shoulder and lap belts correctly. These models should never be used for infants or in conjunction with infant seats or convertible models.

These built-in styles are only for older children, and you should check with your owner’s manual for recommended height and weight limits before using them.

Seat Belts for Children

seat belt

Older children who no longer fit in a booster seat will use the standard seat belts in the vehicle. They are required to use both the shoulder and lap belts as intended.

The child should be able to rest comfortably against the back of the seat with the knees bent over the edge of the seat. The lap belt should fit snugly across their hips and upper thighs, while the shoulder belt should rest across their shoulder and through the middle of the chest without touching their throat.   

In the State of New York, it is not illegal for children ages 13 and under to ride in the front seat, but they strongly advise against this. The front seat is not the safest location for them, especially with airbags installed. Whenever possible, children should ride in the rear seats of a vehicle.

If an older child must ride in the front seat, the seat belt should be secure, and you should move the seat as far back from the dash as possible. This placement will provide extra room on the chance that an airbag deploys.

Exclusions in New York

There are some exclusions that the state of New York recognizes with car seat safety. Seatbelt use is not necessary for emergency vehicles, automobiles with the year 1964 or older, and busses where seatbelts are not available.

New York state allows for medical exceptions of seatbelt usage when there are physical limitations to wearing a safety restraint correctly while in a vehicle. This exception requires a certified physician’s note and must be with you in the automobile when traveling.

Taxi or Shuttle Services in New York

Passengers riding in TLC-licensed vehicles (Taxi and Limousine Commission) are encouraged to bring their own child safety seats when traveling with young children. Some companies will provide appropriate child safety seats upon request if available.

Children under the age of 7 are permitted to sit on the adult’s lap while riding in TLC-licensed vehicles.

Penalties for Not Following the New York Car Seat Laws

The state of New York strictly enforces their car seat laws for every age of passenger. For any passenger that is not wearing a proper restraint, a driver can face a fine of up to $50. That fine can increase to $100 when the passenger is a child 16 years of age or younger. Penalties for improper restraints with children can also bring a licensed driver 3 driver violation points.

About Joanne Stene
Joanne Stene
Joanne is a mother of 2 young girls and a technical writer with over 20 years of professional experience. She originally got interested in the topic of car seats as her two daughters were born and during the course of research into which seats to buy for her family. That interest has turned into a passion of sharing information on the Elite Car Seats website.
Joanne Stene
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