Understanding Car Seat Laws and Booster Seat Laws in South Carolina

Babies and children who are a certain age or size are required to be in safety seats when riding in cars. South Carolina laws provide detailed information about when a child should be in a car seat or booster seat. Read below to learn more.

If you were involved in a car accident and have questions about your rights, contact Ryan Montgomery Law right away. One thing we can do is help you get your car seat or booster seat replaced. Call us today at (864) 207-4927.

South Carolina Laws About Child Safety Seats

The South Carolina Code Section 56-5-6410 details requirements for child passenger restraint systems in passenger cars. It indicates that every driver of a motor vehicle, which includes cars, trucks, vans, and recreational vehicles, that is operated on highways and streets must properly secure children within the vehicle. Failure to do so can result in a $150 fine for a first offense.

There are exceptions to this law, which can be found at Section 56-5-6420. For example, if a vehicle lacks a rear passenger seat or all rear seats are occupied by other children under the specified age, then a child may ride in the front seat. However, they are still required to be in an appropriate restraint system or belt-positioner.

Another exception to the specifications of child restraint seats is for children who have special medical needs. A child may obtain written documentation from a physician, advanced nurse practitioner, or physician assistant indicating that a standard child restraint seat does not meet their needs. In such a case, they must have a specially developed child restraint system that still meets standards prescribed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

When Does a Child Have to Be in a Rear-Facing Car Seat?

According to South Carolina laws, all infants under the age of 2 must be in a rear-facing car seat until they exceed the height and weight limit allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat. If a child under the age of 2 has outgrown their rear-facing car seat, they may be placed in a forward-facing car seat. All children in car seats must be in the back passenger part of the vehicle.

When Can I Put My Child in a Forward-Facing Car Seat?

A child who is at least 2 years old may be secured in a forward-facing car seat in the rear seat of a vehicle. A toddler should remain in a forward-facing seat until they exceed the height and weight requirements of their forward-facing car seat.

As previously mentioned, if a child under the age of 2 exceeds the height and weight requirements of their rear-facing car seat, they may be transferred to a forward-facing car seat in the rear part of the vehicle.

Booster Seat Laws in South Carolina

Children who are at least 4 years old and have outgrown their forward-facing car seats may use a booster seat in the rear part of a vehicle. When in a booster seat, both lap and shoulder belts must be used.

When Can My Child Use a Seat Belt?

When a child meets all of the height and weight fit requirements for adult safety belts, they no longer have to use a car seat or booster seat. South Carolina law specifies that a child must be at least 8 years old and 57 inches tall in order to be restrained with a safety belt without a booster seat. However, that only applies if the safety belt fits them properly. A seat belt fits properly if:

  • The lap belt fits across the thighs and hips of the child, not across the abdomen
  • The shoulder belt crosses the center of the child’s chest, not the neck
  • The child can sit with their back straight against the vehicle seat
  • The child can sit with their knees bent over the edge of the vehicle’s seat without slouching

Can My Child Ride in the Front Seat of My Car?

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety recommends that all children under the age of 13 ride in the back seat of all vehicles. They are better protected from all types of crashes in the back seat. Additionally, air bags that are in the front dashboard can seriously injure small children.

South Carolina law mandates that children who are still in car seats and booster seats ride in the back passenger area of a car. However, if all back seats are taken by other children under the age of 8 or there is no back seat (common in older model trucks), then a child may be properly restrained in the front seat.

What Should I Do If My Child is Involved in a Car Accident?

If your child is involved in a car accident, the car seat will hopefully provide protection and your child will be uninjured. However, you should always ensure your child gets emergency medication treatment after a crash. They could have injuries that are not visible or immediately identifiable.

Additionally, you should always replace any car seat or booster seat that is involved in a car crash. Even if it doesn’t appear to be damaged, the plastic could have minor cracks or weak areas. Insurance companies will typically pay for the replacement of car seats that were involved in car accidents.

Ryan Montgomery Law Is Here to Help

If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident, you should immediately reach out to a lawyer who can walk you through a personal injury claim. You will likely have many expenses that need to be covered, from medical bills to a replacement car seat. Call Ryan Montgomery Law today at (864) 207-4927.