What are the car seat laws in Washington DC?

Children in DC must be eight-years-old and 4'9" to wear an adult seat belt. Neglecting these laws will result in fines up to $150 and a mandatory safety class.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Mar 22, 2022

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Things to remember...

  • Kids must remain rear-facing until they are one
  • There is a $75 fine the first time you are caught not using appropriate child safety seats
  • The fee increases each time you are caught driving without proper car seats
  • Washington D.C. car insurance companies will penalize those who do not adhere to these laws

Washington DC is the home of many lawmakers, and it’s the place where many laws take effect. It should come as no surprise to any resident or visitor of the District of Columbia that child car seat laws in the area are strict.

Car seat laws in every state are strict to keep children safe in the car. All kids are different and all car seats are different, which is why parents must understand the laws, what they mean, and how they keep their kids safe in the car while also abiding by the law.

Washington DC residents have a few options when it comes to keeping their children safe in the car. The law is specific to a point, but it must be lenient in areas to allow for different sizes of children.

It’s imperative you pay attention to what the law requires so you don’t unknowingly put your child at risk in the car.

One way to do this is to start by asking your current car insurance company if they offer car seat replacement following an accident. If they don’t, it’s time to shop around for a policy that does offer this protection.

Compare car insurance quotes today to find the coverage you need at the right price. Enter your zip code above to start shopping today.

Washington DC Child Safety Seat Laws and Requirements

You know your kids must be in a child safety seat, but you might not know which seat and to what age your child must remain in this kind of restraint.

Here are the guidelines:

  • Beginning at birth, children must be placed in a rear-facing convertible car seat that’s designed for infants and newborns up to at least 20 pounds. If you choose a car seat that allows children larger than 20 pounds, that’s also permitted.
  • Children must be one year old and 20 pounds before they can move from their rear-facing car seat into a forward-facing car seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics prefers you wait until your child is at least two years old before you turn him or her around because rear-facing is far safer. Washington DC law, however, has not changed to make that a requirement.
  • Between 20 lbs and 40 pounds, your child can move to a five-point harness seat. They must be used until your child is at least 40 pounds. Once your child reaches this weight, he or she is legally permitted to graduate to an approved booster seat.
  • Booster seats are for kids 40 pounds and up. Kids should remain in a booster until at least eight years old, but they cannot move out of that seat until they are four feet nine inches tall. Washington DC child safety seat laws do not include anything regarding kids older than 16.
  • Kids younger than 16 must be belted into a seat belt in the vehicle or you will get a ticket.

There is also no law requiring your kids to stay in the back seat until a certain age. If you want to move your kids to the front, you can. However, it’s recommended you keep your kids in the back seat of your car until they are at least 13.


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Child Safety Seat Violations in Washington DC

The nation’s capital does not play nice when adults are caught without proper safety seats for their children. First-time offenders have a choice of consequences. You can either pay a $75 fine and move on, or you can pay a $25 fee and take a Child Safety Restraint Class.

If you’re caught driving without your kids in the correct seats a second time, you don’t get a choice. You will pay the fine and take the class.

If you are caught a third time without your kids in the proper seats, you are required to pay a $125 fine. The fourth time you’re caught, the fine is increased to $150. The class is required for all subsequent violations of the child safety seat laws in DC. 

If the fines don’t seem like much to you, just remember the other cost of not driving with your kids in the correct safety seats could be their lives.

Important Child Safety Seat Information

Never place your child in a used car seat unless you know it’s never been in an accident and only then if it was manufactured in the past six years. Anything older no longer meets safety requirements.

Anything used and involved in an accident might not be capable of preventing injury if it’s involved in a second accident.

If you do have a car seat that’s been involved in an accident, talk to your insurance provider about replacement coverage. It’s one of the most important coverages you can ask for when you compare rates.

Child safety seat laws are strict for a reason, and Washington DC lawmakers frown upon anyone who chooses to ignore the law.

Local law enforcement offices allow anyone to come into their facility to learn how to properly install car seats, they’re happy to perform car seat checks, and they work hard to educate parents on how you can keep your own kids safe in the car.

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