Illinois Car Seat Laws for Beginners: All You Need to Know

If you’re staying in the state of Illinois for a while with your kid, or you just became a parent, you must be wondering what the official Illinois Car Seat Laws are. 

Knowing how confusing the legislative language can get, we prepared a detailed but straightforward guide through Illinois car seat laws. It has all the essential information, including a few extra tips.

Make sure you get familiar with official car seat laws wherever you stay because these regulations differ from one state to another. Not complying with the official laws may result in legal fees and points against your license.

So, without any further ado, get prepared to hit the road safely!

The General Illinois Car Seat Law

illinois child car seat laws

All children younger than eight in the state of Illinois must be safely secured in a car, using the appropriate child restraint system for their age and weight. The child restraint system includes rear-facing child seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats.

Unlike in other states, in Illinois, you are responsible for safely accommodating a child no matter if you’re a legal guardian or parent of that child, or you’re only giving a ride to someone else’s child. What is more, a driver is responsible for securing all passengers under sixteen.

Illinois Rear-Facing Car Seats Law

What Illinois car seat laws say about rear-facing car seats is that every child under two must remain secured in the rear-facing car seat.

You can upgrade to a forward-facing car seat before the age of two; exclusively, if your child is more than forty pounds in weight or more than forty inches tall, otherwise, it is not allowed.

Illinois Forward-Facing Car Seats Law

The official Illinois car seat law does not specify anything about forward-facing car seats, but it does say that the child restraint system has to be appropriate. Therefore, we will refer to the federal recommendations, as stated by NHTSA.

According to NHTSA, the usual age when your child should be secured in a forward-facing car seat is around three or four years, and it is recommendable to remain there until seven. This is doable, only if your child does not exceed the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the weight and height.

Illinois Booster Car Seat Law

illinois expired car seat laws

When it comes to booster seats, Illinois car seat law also has no specific requirements, so we will again consult the NHTSA.

Namely, the NHTSA says your child should be using a booster seat from the age of seven to the age of twelve. But it is not illegal for your child to upgrade to a booster seat from the age of four if his/her weight exceeds the limits of a forward-facing car seat.

Illinois Safety Belt Law

The Illinois Safety Belt Law requires all passengers and drivers in a vehicle, regardless of age, to use a safety belt law. For children, this would mean that once they turn eight, they can and have to use a safety belt. 

However, the official recommendations are that your child should remain in a booster seat until he/she turns twelve, but this is not mandatory. 

Exceptions

If your vehicle’s back seat does not have a shoulder belt, the Illinois car seat laws allow the use of a lap belt only if your child weighs more than forty pounds, regardless of age.

The Penalties

illinois.car seat laws

If you violate the Illinois seat belt law, you will be fined $25. For the Child Passenger Protection Act violation, you will be fined $75 for the first offense and $200 for every subsequent offense.

However, the first offenders can avoid the fee if they prove that they have an appropriate restraint system and complete a child passenger safety instructional course.

Additional Help with Car Seats 

Securing your child correctly, and most importantly, safely is not an easy task. You might think it ends once you install the appropriate car seat, but actually it does not.

Once you install the child restraint system correctly, you should check it in one of the fitting stations, register it to get the updates on recalls and changes, and finally follow your child’s growth to upgrade to the next stage in time.

So, before you buy a child restraint system, the first thing you should do is check the official recommendations of the NHTSA. This is important because some states allow your child to be secured in a way that is not the safest possible.

However, if you follow pediatricians’ recommendations, you’ll know your child is 100% safe. 

Installation

When it comes to the installment, follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. And, if you’re still a bit confused, watch these useful videos:

A useful video on installing the rear-facing car seat correctly:

A useful video on installing the forward-facing car seat correctly:

A useful video on installing a booster seat correctly:

Fitting Stations

You can buy the safest child restraint system possible, follow the recommendations, and still fail to install the seat correctly. This may result in serious injuries of kids under fourteen in the case of an accident. 

Hence, just to make sure you did everything you could to protect your child, you should get your safety restraint system inspected by one of the Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians.

You can find the information on the free fitting stations in Illinois here

Another option is to use the NHTSA system for finding the nearest certified child passenger safety technician. 

If you want to become a certified child passenger safety technician yourself, check this article out:

https://www.800bucklup.org/technicians/

Register Your Car Seat

illinois state police car seat laws

The closing step in the process of ensuring your child’s safety in a vehicle is to register your car seat and regularly receive emails on recalls and eventual changes in the safety standard. You can do it on the NHTSA page as well, on this link

Suppose you’re willing to learn more about the child passenger safety, the controversies linked with this matter, and safety laws. In that case, you can read this article by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Also, to learn why you should use a car seat on an airplane and how to transport it with no effort, check these two articles:

Final Thoughts

To conclude, we can say that the state of Illinois has some pretty strict laws when it comes to seat belts, but on the other hand, it could improve its safety restrictions for child passengers. 

The exact statute I have a problem with is allowing children over forty pounds to sit on the back seat with only a lap belt.

This seems very unsafe and dangerous, mainly because all the official recommendations do not approve of booster seats before at least four years, and not to mention lap belts.

However, it is all up to you; just don’t forget to put your child’s wellbeing in the first place.