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When does a child have to use a booster seat?

Child restraints were once limited to car seats, but times are changing. The law in Washington now includes booster seats for older and bigger children. According to the Washington State Booster Seat Coalition, because seat belts are designed for full grown, adult bodies, you need to use child restraints for children riding in your vehicle.

The law states your child must be in a booster seat until he or she is eight years old or four feet nine inches tall. The Anton Skeen Act initiated this requirement. The booster seat raises the child up so the seat belt can sit on the body in the correct spots. This allows it to protect smaller bodies in the same way it protects adults.

Once a child is eight years old, he or she may use just the seat belt with no booster seat. However, the child must wear the seat belt properly, using the shoulder belt across the body. In addition, if your child is still in a booster seat, he or she must also use the shoulder belt properly. Vehicles with a lap belt only style seat belts are exempt from the booster seat requirement. In such vehicles, children must use the seat belt properly.

The state also recommends all children ride in the backseat only until they reach the age of 14. This is not a law, though. It has been proven the backseat is the safest place for smaller children and teens. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not legal advice.