Editor’s note: This article was updated in 2022 to link to a more appropriate section of the relevant statute.
In Illinois law, the Child Passenger Protection Act states that a person transporting a child under eight years old on a road, street, or highway in a non-commercial motor vehicle, a truck or truck tractor with seat safety belts, a motor vehicle weighing 9,000 pounds or less, or a recreational vehicle is responsible for properly securing the child in an appropriate children restraint system. If you are a parent or legal guardian, you are required by law to provide a child restraint system to anyone transporting your child.
Babies and Children Up to Two Years Old
Any person transporting a child under two years old in a motor vehicle designed to carry no more than ten people, or in a motor vehicle used for freight, cargo, farming, or recreation and weighing 9,000 pounds or less, must properly secure the child in a rear facing child restraint system until the child weighs forty pounds or more or is forty inches tall or more. A child restraint system is a device designed to restrain, seat, or position a child and must meet the United States Department of Transportation standards.
Children Two to Eight Years Old
A child between two and eight years old may ride in the back seat of a motor vehicle wearing only a lap belt if the motor vehicle does not have a combination lap and shoulder belt and the child weighs more than forty pounds.
Children Eight to Fifteen Years Old
Any person transporting a child between eight and fifteen years old is responsible for properly securing that child in a seat belt.
Children Eight to Eighteen Years Old
If the person transporting a child between eight and eighteen years old is also under eighteen years old, that person is responsible for securing that child in a seat safety belt that is correctly adjusted and fastened or in an appropriate child restraint system.
If the person transporting a child between eight and eighteen years old is over eighteen years old but was convicted of a moving violation in the six months prior to his or her eighteenth birthday, that person is responsible for securing that child in a seat safety belt that is correctly adjusted and fastened or in an appropriate child restraint system until six consecutive months have elapsed without another conviction for a moving violation.
Penalties for Violations
A first violation of the Child Passenger Protection Act is a petty offense and is punishable by a $75.00 fine. If you are charged with a first violation, you will not be convicted if you provide satisfactory evidence to the court that you have an approved child restraint system and that you completed an instructional course on installing a child restraint system.
A second or subsequent offense of the Child Passenger Protection Act is also a petty offense but is punishable by a $200.00 fine. You may not avoid conviction for a second or subsequent offense by proving to the court that you have an approved child restraint system and that you complete an instructional course.
However, you may schedule a child passenger safety instructional course with a child passenger safety technician or technician instructor certified by the National Child Passenger Safety Training Program. This course will include instruction on the proper installation of a child restrain system and an inspection of the child restraint system. Upon completion, the technician will issue a letter for you to submit at your mandatory court appearance date indicating that you voluntarily participated in and completed the instructional course.
The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act does not apply to motorcycles.
Your child may be exempt from the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act if he or she has a physical disability that prevents him or her from being appropriately restrained in a seat and if his or her disability has been duly certified by a physician. The physician must state the nature of your child’s disability and the reason that your child is unable to be appropriately restrained.
* Ms. Blake is licensed in the state of Maryland. The information provided in this article does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.