Arizona's child restraint laws differ depending on the age and size of the child. The law also provides exceptions for certain types of vehicles and situations.
Here are the basics of the law and penalties for a violation.
Arizona's child restraint law isn't very specific. Basically, the law gives general requirements for three age brackets:
However, as explained below, a child's height can also be a factor that affects the car seat and seatbelt requirements.
Arizona law requires all children under the age of five to be properly restrained in a child restraint system. A child restraint system can be rear-facing, forward-facing, or a booster seat so long as they all comply with federal safety regulations.
Children between the ages of five and eight must be in a restraint system if they are under 4' 9". Once a child is over the age of five and at least 4'9", he or she must use a seatbelt.
For children who are at least eight years, it's lawful to use an ordinary seatbelt. However, depending on the size of the child, a booster seat might be a safer option.
Arizona law requires parents to use "child restraint systems" that comply with federal law. Generally, an appropriate child restraint system is going to be a:
To determine which seat is appropriate, it's best to check the manufacturer's instructions. Also, in many areas, law enforcement or the fire department can inspect your car seat to ensure it's the right kind of seat and properly installed.
Generally, the first restraint system parents should use is a rear-facing car seat. A rear-facing car seat is typically appropriate until a child reaches about two years old.
Once a child outgrows his or her rear-facing seat, a forward-facing car seat is the next step up. Generally, children use forward-facing seats until about age five.
Booster seats are generally appropriate for children who have outgrown their forward-facing seat but are not yet big enough for a normal seatbelt to fit properly. Many children are big enough to use a normal seatbelt at around age eight.
Arizona's child restraint law does not apply to a person who:
Arizona's law also contains an exception that applies in certain circumstances where a vehicle doesn't have sufficient passenger space to accomodate car seats for multiple children.
The fine for violating the child restraint law is $50. However, if the driver purchases a car seat that complies with federal safety guidelines, the judge will generally drop the fine.
Seatbelt violations carry a maximum fine of $10 per person.
From time to time, recalls are issued for child car seats. To find out about recalls, you can register with the NHTSA to receive recall information about the seat you have or search for recalls that have already been issued.