California requires that children within certain age, height and weight ranges be placed in booster seats when riding in vehicles. A booster seat is a child safety seat with a firm cushion that comes with or without a backrest. It allows you to position the lap and shoulder belt properly on a child riding in the vehicle. Drivers and parents found in noncompliance with booster seat requirements may be issued citations.
Age and Size
Booster seats were originally designed for children who have outgrown front-facing car seats. It is suggested that children ages 4 to 9 be placed in booster seats while riding in vehicles. In California, the minimum weight requirement for a child to ride in a booster seat is between 30 and 40 lbs., and the maximum weight is between 80 and 125 lbs. Booster seat models can vary, so parents should check the labels for specific weight requirements.
The front seats of vehicles equipped with airbags are especially dangerous for children. California law requires that all children must be secured in the back seat until they reach age 6 or weigh at least 60 lbs. All child safety seats, including booster seats, should be placed in a back seat and used with both a lap belt and a shoulder belt. The lap belt should be placed low and tight across the child's upper thighs rather than across his tummy. The shoulder belt should cross the child's collar bone and the center of his chest.
Citations and Exceptions
Drivers and parents may be cited for misuse if they are stopped in a vehicle with a child in a booster seat who does not meet the minimum weight requirements. He should still be using a child's car seat. Citations may also be given for allowing a child to ride in a booster seat with only a lap belt. However, if the back seat of the vehicle was not manufactured with combination lap and shoulder belts, exceptions are made. Exceptions are also made if a vehicle does not have a back seat, causing a child in a booster seat to have to ride in the front passenger seat.