Generally, New York State expects you to secure your child in a child passenger safety system through 7 years of age. Some exceptions, based on age, size and the types of seat belts your vehicle is equipped with do apply. New York's child restraint law governs all children, up to their 16th birthday, requiring use of either a safety seat or an adult seat belt.
Child Car Seats
New York State requires use of a child safety seat for children who are less than 4 years old. Appropriate safety seats for kids under 4 years of age generally fall into two categories, according to the New York State Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC). An infant should ride in a rear-facing car seat until she reaches 1 year of age and 20 pounds in weight. From there, GTSC recommends use of a forward-facing car seat with harness until your child weighs 40 pounds.
If your child is under 4 years old, but weighs more than 40 pounds, New York State allows you to secure him in a booster seat. The law mandates booster seat use for children between the ages of 4 and 7, once they have outgrown a forward-facing seat with harness. Booster seats are designed to work with your vehicle's shoulder/lap belts. GTSC suggests that you keep your child in a booster seat until they reach four feet nine inches tall or a weight of 100 pounds.
Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) data show that New York, as of May 2010, is one of 47 states in the nation that has a booster seat provision tied to its child restraint law.
Seat Belt Use
New York State allows you to secure your child with a lap belt (one without a shoulder strap) without the use of a booster seat if she weighs more than 40 pounds or is between 4 and 7 years old, but only if she is seated in a position where a shoulder/lap belt combination is not available. In this case, the law permits the use of a lap belt rather than a booster seat because booster seats are not designed to operate safely with a lap belt only. New York's child restraint law requires adult seat belts for all minors between the ages of 8 and 15.
New York State hits violators of the child restraint law with a $100 fine. The court waives this penalty if the defendant can show proof of purchase or acquisition of an appropriate child passenger safety system between the date of the offense and their court appearance.