North Carolina Car Seat Laws in 2021

In North Carolina law, a child under eight years old and under eighty pounds must be properly secured in a weight-appropriate child passenger restraint system and a child between eight and seventeen years old must be secured by a properly fitted seat belt when being transported in a motor vehicle which is required by federal standards to be equipped with seat belts. Most cars manufactured after 1967 and most pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans manufactured after 1971 are required to be equipped with seat belts.

Babies and Children Up to Five Years Old and Under Forty Pounds

A child under five years old and weighing less than forty pounds must be properly secured in a weight-appropriate child passenger restraint system in the rear seat of the motor vehicle if the vehicle has a rear seat and is equipped with an active passenger-side front air bag, unless the child restraint system is designed to be used with air bags.

Children Five to Seven Years Old and Under Eighty Pounds

A child between the ages of five and seven years old and weighing less than eighty pounds must be properly secured in a weight-appropriate child passenger restraint system. If no seat equipped with a lap and shoulder belt to properly secure the child passenger restraint system is available, the child may be secured by a properly fitted lap belt only.

Children Eight to Seventeen Years Old

A child between the ages of eight and seventeen years old must be secured by a properly fitted seat belt.

Penalties for Violations

You are responsible for all children under sixteen years old being transported in your motor vehicle. For each violation of North Carolina’s child safety seat law, you may be fined up to $25.00, ordered to pay up to $263.00 in court costs, and receive two points on your driver’s license, but you will not receive points on your insurance. You will not be convicted if the violation involves a child under four years old and you present proof at trial that you have acquired a child restraint device since your violation.

Children between sixteen and seventeen years old are responsible for wearing their seat belts when driving or being transported in a motor vehicle. If a child between sixteen and seventeen years old violates North Carolina’s seat belt law while driving or occupying the front seat of a motor vehicle, he or she may be fined up to $25.50 and ordered to pay up to $153.50 in court costs, but will not receive points on his or her driver’s license or insurance. If a child between sixteen and seventeen years old violates North Carolina’s seat belt law while occupying the rear seat of a motor vehicle, he or she may be fined up to $10.00 but will not be ordered to pay court costs and will not receive points on his or her driver’s license or insurance.

Exemptions

Your child may be exempt from North Carolina’s child safety seat and seat belt laws if he or she is being transported in a motor vehicle which is not required to be equipped with safety belts, including cars manufactured before 1968; pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans manufactured before 1972; large buses; and ambulances and other emergency vehicles.

Your child may be exempt from North Carolina’s child safety seat and seat belt laws if his or her personal needs are being tended to.

Your child may be exempt from North Carolina’s child safety seat and seat belt laws if all seating positions in the motor vehicle which are equipped with seat belts are occupied.

* 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.


Attorney Denise A. Blake*

Denise practices family law at Blake Law, LLC in Westminster, Maryland. She holds a Juris Doctor with an emphasis in Family Law from the University of Baltimore School of Law.