Hawaii Car Seat Laws in 2022: What You Need To Know About Safe Driving

Are you familiar that from September 15 to 21, the Hawaii Department of Transportation launches National Child Passenger Safety Week?

In the course of CPS week and all year round, safety technicians are passionate about educating parents and guardians on proper child transportation safety.

The best way to protect little ones in transport is via a proper child restraint system.

In the state of Hawaii, all passengers must be protected at all times during transportation.

Whether that is a booster seat, seat belt, or a car seat restraint system, protection is a must!

Honolulu Police Department reported that over 700 children below the age of 8 are involved in life-threatening car crashes each year.

Now is the time you should educate yourself in Hawaii car seat laws and protect your loved ones.

Car Seat Laws

hawaii car seat laws 2022

Regarding car seat laws, Hawaii requires children under eight years old to be transported in a proper child restraint system under two conditions:

1) If there are under-four year olds in the car, the driver should provide a proper car seat restraint system.

2) Eight-year-olds and younger (including 4-years old) should be restrained in a booster seat or a safety seat.

1. Rear-faced Seat

Following the recommendations given out by the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants and under two-year-olds should ride in the rear-faced seats.

APP advises children under the age of 4 to be in an adequate, 5-point harness restraint system.

Having babies in rear-facing seats helps give them proper head and neck support.

If you think that your baby is big enough for a front-faced position, please check the instructions first.

It's recommended you keep children in appropriate safety systems until they reach adequate height and weight.

However, keeping babies safe in the rear seat is not always possible.

Some car models have only two seats, and sometimes there isn't enough room. In that case, you can install the car seat in the front, but be careful

Always make sure that the airbags are disconnected.

Studies have shown that having airbags with front-seat children riders ends up lethal in most cases.

2. Front-Face Car Seat Law

hawaii car seat law rear facing

As soon as your 1-year-old reaches over 20 pounds, it's approved by Hawaii law to install a front-facing car seat.

You need to use a 5-point harness at all times, no matter if the baby is riding front or rear faced.

You should keep the baby riding in the rear seat as long as possible.

It is far safer than front-faced, especially if they haven't reached the appropriate height and weight.

According to numerous seat manufacturers, children can stay in front-faced seats until the age of four and 40 pounds.

3. Booster Seat Laws

The next level from front-faced seats is the booster seat.

Until the age of 8, you should supply your child with a booster seat if you want to ride through the ride safely.

Usually, if the child weighs less than 80 pounds and is shorter than 4'9', a booster seat is your best option.

Don't think that every booster seat is the same. You need the one with a security belt, which comes in two types:

1. Backless booster seats: opt for a backless model only if your car has a proper headrest.

These booster models are created to offer optimal support for the child's head and shoulders.

2. Booster seats with headrest: This is an excellent option if your vehicle does not have a proper headrest.

The child's lumbar area and head must be protected at all times.

If the worst-case scenario happens, children can suffer from injuries if their back is not supported or protected by any means.

You should know the type of booster seat you need, but you also have to pay attention to how you install it. The booster seat must consist of a lap belt and a shoulder belt.

Once you install it, make sure the lap belt goes across the lap area, never the waist. The same goes for the shoulder belt; it should go over the chest and not on the neck and underarm area.

If the belts are on the larger side or the child's back is not against the end of the vehicle with its feet on the floor, then it is not the time for a booster seat.

It is better than to stick to the forward-faced seats until the child satisfies the booster's necessary criteria.

When is The Right Time For a Front Seat Ride?

high child safety seat laws

According to Hawaii law it clearly states that children should be secured in the back seat until they are at the age of eight.

After that, it is legal for them to ride in the front seat with proper precautions.

However, this is not advised by most experts.

Manufactures and doctors advise that the safest option is for the child to ride in the front seat after the age of 13.

Can You Leave a Child Alone in The Car?

For the State of Hawaii, it is illegal to leave a child unsupervised in the vehicle for more than 5 minutes.

If an adult passenger leaves the child unattended, they are charged with the child's care/custody.

Is Smoking In Vehicles Allowed In Hawaii?

Since 2018, it is illegal to smoke or vape in any motor vehicle when a minor is present.

Anyone violating this law is subjected to fines which vary by country.

Following recent studies, there is no safe level of smoke exposure.

An even smaller amount of smoke can cause health harms, specifically the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

Interestingly, there are over 7000 chemicals in secondhand smoke, and over 70 are known to be cancer triggers.

Have this information in mind the next time you think about lighting a cigarette in front of a child.

What Is the Car Seat Law for Taxis in Hawaii?

hawaii car seat law front seat

For taxis in Hawaii, it is not illegal if they do not supply a car seat.

However, we recommend you bring your own even if it's for a short taxi ride.

You can find a lot of portable models of car seats on the market that offer safe transportation for your child.

Do You Need to Replace a Seat After an Accident?

Even though no law states you need the car seat replacement when an accident occurs, it does not mean you can keep on using the seat as if nothing happened.

They usually have a six-year life span and even if your car seat stays untacked, check it for damages and replace it for a sound mind.

Where Can You Get Car Seat Help?

Here are a few helpful resources if you need a car seat in Hawaii:

List of Inspection Stations Across Hawaii

Child Passenger Fitting Stations at WCCHC


Have you read all of the laws regarding Hawaii's car seats? If the answer is yes, you are ready for your safe trip with the kids.

Remember to buckle-up and keep them safe throughout the ride while enjoying your stay in Hawaii.

Avatar of Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

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