What are the car seat laws in Washington?

A child in Washington who is at least eight years old and 57 inches tall is allowed to use an adult seat belt. Drivers can be fined $124 or more for neglecting the state laws.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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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

UPDATED: Nov 2, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • You are responsible for the safety of children riding in your vehicle, including their use of child safety seats
  • Always follow the manufacturer guidelines and instructions when it comes to child safety seat use
  • The AAP is also a good resource for car seat safety
  • The state of Washington has specific laws regarding child safety seat use
  • Washington car insurance companies pay attention to seat belt and child safety laws
  • Not properly restraining a child can cost you at least $124 per offense in this state

If you will have a child riding in your vehicle, it is important that you are familiar with your state’s car seat laws. This applies whether the child is your own or not.

Each state has their own specific car seat laws in place, which can sometimes make car seat laws confusing for parents and other caregivers.

However, since the federal government must approve car safety seats for children, the following general guidelines apply no matter what state you are in:

  • Follow manufacturer instructions when it comes to the maximum height and weight of the child for a safety seat
  • Always comply with the manufacturer directions for use and installation

Compare car insurance quotes today to find the coverage that’s right for your situation.

AAP Recommendations


Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a trusted source for the health and safety of children, also provides the following recommendations:

  • Children should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they are two years of age or until they reach the maximum height and weight for the seat as determined by the seat’s manufacturer.
  • Children should be in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are four feet nine inches tall and between the ages of eight and 12.
  • The front passenger seat of a vehicle should only be used for children over the age of 13.

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Washington Car Seat Laws

Washington has its own car seat laws, which may differ from surrounding states. In Washington, children under the age of eight and less than four feet nine inches are required to be in an appropriate child safety seat.

When circumstances allow, children under 12 years of age must be in a rear seat of the vehicle. If the vehicle only has one row of seats or all rear seats are being used by other children, this portion of the law does not apply.

Children between the ages of eight and 15 can wear an adult seat belt according to Washington law.

Children who weigh more than 40 pounds but are not yet eight years old must be in a booster seat with the adult belt.


Consequences for Breaking Washington Car Seat Laws

In the state of Washington, you can be stopped simply for not wearing a seat belt or having a child properly restrained. This is called primary enforcement.

Some states have only secondary enforcement, which means you must be pulled over for another violation in order to be cited for seat and safety belt use as well.

If you are violating the child safety seat law in Washington, you can be fined as much as $124 for the first offense alone. You may also be subject to additional fees.

Provide for Child Safety and Care


One aspect of child safety and care in your vehicle is having the right car insurance. Here are some tips to help you get the coverage that is right for your family:

  • Have the appropriate insurance coverage – Your insurance coverage should meet and often even exceed the minimum amounts that are mandated by your state. However, you should also be sure that you actually need the coverages you have. For instance, if you own an older car, you may not want or need full coverage on it.
  • Review your policy every six months – About twice per year, you should review your policy to ensure it is fitting your financial and driving needs. This review can be a good way to save money on your auto insurance.
  • Compare three to four different policies – When you are reviewing your policy, take the time to get quotes from three or four different auto insurance carriers. This can be easily accomplished by using an online price comparison tool.
  • Don’t choose a policy on price alone – While it may be tempting to go with the policy that cost the least, examine all aspects of your options such as customer service and online reviews, before making a final decision.

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Car Seat Inspection for Proper Use and Installation

It is important for parents and caregivers to not only use a child safety seat but to make sure it is installed and used correctly.

As many as 80 percent of child safety seats are used or installed incorrectly which can actually increase the chances of injury or death in the event of an accident.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is a good resource for ensuring you are doing just that. In addition, many local hospitals, fire stations, and police departments will provide car seat checks to ensure safety in your vehicle.

Compare car insurance quotes by entering your ZIP code into our free comparison tool below.

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