Like 48 other states, Connecticut has a mandatory seatbelt law, and it is also a primary law, which means the authorities can stop you just for not being buckled up properly. However, unlike many other states, Connecticut’s laws apply only to the people in the front seat of a moving vehicle.
Under the Connecticut car seat laws, riders age 16 and older who sit in the back seat of the vehicle are not required to wear a seatbelt. However, if you’re below the age of 16, you must be secured in a proper car seat, booster seat, or seatbelt, regardless of where you are sitting.
Specifically, all children who weigh less than 60 pounds and who are under eight years of age must be in a car or booster seat at all times when they are riders in a moving vehicle. If a child suffers from a disability that prevents them from wearing a seatbelt, they are allowed to ride without one, although you will need a written statement from a doctor or nurse practitioner stating the details of the condition to qualify for this exemption.
Laws for Rear-Facing Car Seats
Under Connecticut law, it is recommended that babies two and under be placed in a rear-facing car seat that has a five-point harness system. Once they reach 30 pounds, they are usually ready to move onto the next type of car seat; however, your baby can stay in a rear-facing car seat as long as it is recommended by the car seat’s manufacturer.
Each car seat is different and has different height and weight recommendations, so you should always adhere to the recommendations made by the owner’s manual to keep your baby as safe as possible at all times.
Laws for Front-Facing Car Seats
Once a child reaches the age of two and a weight of 30 pounds, you can switch to a front-facing car seat, as long as it has a five-point harness system. If your baby is small for his or her age, you can continue to use a rear-facing car seat if you like, as long as it doesn’t go against the recommendations made in the owner’s manual.
In addition, paying attention to both the age and the weight of the child is important, because this is the best way to determine which car seat will work best.
Laws for Booster Seats
In the Connecticut car seat laws, booster seats are recommended for children who have reached five years of age or 40 pounds, and they recommend a DOT-approved booster seat that is one of the following two types:
- A full-back booster seat, which protects the child’s head and neck and can be used whether or not you have proper headrests in your vehicle
- A backless booster seat, which should only be used if you have proper headrests because it does not protect the child’s head and neck area
Once you get to a booster seat, you should keep the following tips in mind:
- Always use a lap and shoulder belt, never just a lap belt, to secure the booster seat
- Make sure the shoulder belt fits snugly over the child’s chest area and never the neck
- Make sure the lap belt fits across the thigh area, never the abdomen
Booster seats can also be a little tricky because if the child doesn’t have the maturity to sit still during the ride, he or she may not be ready for them even if the age and weight are correct. Children using booster seats should be able to touch the floor with their feet, sit comfortably against the back of the vehicle seat, and bend their legs comfortably over the seat. If this isn’t the case, it is recommended that you go back to using a front-facing car seat again.
Height and Weight Requirements
In the state of Connecticut, the following requirements are applicable:
- Rear-facing car seats: under two years of age and under 30 pounds
- Front-facing or rear-facing car seats: ages two to four and 30 to 39 pounds
- Booster seats: ages five to seven and 40 to 59 pounds
- Standard seatbelts: ages eight or older and 60 pounds and above
Children must meet both the age and weight specifications to be in that particular type of seat. For instance, if a child is past the age of two, but still under 30 pounds in weight, he or she should remain in a rear-facing car seat for a bit longer, until a weight of 30 pounds is reached. Rear-facing car seats do a much better job of protecting babies’ head, neck, and spine when an accident occurs, which is why it is recommended that babies stay in them as long as possible.
If the owner’s manual for your particular car seat makes different recommendations regarding height and weight, it is best to adhere to those recommendations. Although they are likely similar to the requirements listed above, each car seat is different and, therefore, you should pay strict attention to the requirements set forth by that particular manufacturer.
Laws for Seatbelts
The state of Connecticut assesses penalties of a minimum of $50 for any violation of the seatbelt law, but they also have the option of charging additional penalties if they feel it is necessary. This means that fines for not wearing seatbelts can get quite expensive. In fact, the state’s DMV can even require that you attend an approved child car seat safety course if they deem it necessary. If you do not complete the course, they have the right to suspend your driver’s license for up to two months.
The state also recommends, although it isn’t an official law, that all children 12 and under sit in the rear seats of the vehicle because this is where they are the safest. Most newer vehicles now have airbags in the front seat, which can seriously injure or even kill a young child if he or she sits there. Children of all ages who are properly buckled up and sitting in the rear seats are always going to be safer than unbuckled children or children who sit in the front seat of the vehicle.