Editor’s note: This article was updated in 2022 to link to a more appropriate section of the relevant statutes.
According to Arizona law, a child under eight years old and 4’9” tall or less must use a child restraint system and a child between eight and seventeen years old must use a lap and shoulder belt when being transported in a motor vehicle on Arizona’s highways. A child restraint system may be an add-on, built-in, factory-installed built-in, or rear-facing system or a booster seat meeting federal standards.
If you cannot afford a child restraint system, you can borrow one at no charge for as long as necessary from a responsible agency if you are eligible and a system is available. A responsible agency is a licensed hospital, public or private agency providing shelter services to domestic violence victims or homeless families, or health clinic.
Babies and Children Up to Five Years Old
A child under five years old must be properly secured in a child restraint system when being transported in a motor vehicle on Arizona’s highways.
Children Five to Seven Years Old and 4’9” Tall or Less
A child between the ages of five and seven years old and 4’9” tall or less must be restrained in a child restraint system when being transported in a motor vehicle designed to carry no more than ten passengers, model year 1972 or later, and required by federal motor vehicle safety standards to have integrated lap and shoulder belts or lap belts.
Children Eight to Seventeen Years Old
Arizona’s seat belt law states a child between the ages of eight and seventeen years old must be secured by a properly adjusted and fastened lap and shoulder belt when being transported in a moving motor vehicle designed to carry no more than ten passengers, model year 1972 or later, and required by federal motor vehicle safety standards to have integrated lap and shoulder belts or lap belts. If only a lap belt is installed in the child’s seat, he or she must be secured by a properly adjusted and fastened lap belt when the vehicle is in motion.
Penalties for Violations
You may be fined $50.00 and a surcharge for violating Arizona’s child restraint system law. If you show sufficient proof that your motor vehicle has subsequently been equipped with a child restraint system meeting federal standards by mailing a receipt for the purchase or acquisition to the appropriate court officer, your civil penalty will be waived.
You may be fined $10.00 for violating Arizona’s vehicle restraints law. No department or agency can consider the violation in deciding whether to suspend or revoke your driver license. No court can transmit a record of the violation to the department. Your insurer cannot consider the violation when establishing your motor vehicle liability insurance rate or determining your insurability and cannot cancel or refuse to renew your insurance policy because of the violation.
Law Enforcement May Stop Your Vehicle for an Apparent Violation
If a law enforcement officer stops your vehicle for an apparent violation of Arizona’s child restraint system law, he or she will ask you the age and height of any children in the vehicle to determine whether they are required to be in a child restraint system. If you have not committed a violation, you may not be detained further unless you committed another violation. Your vehicle may not be searched or seized unless the officer has probable cause for another violation of law.
A peace officer may not stop your vehicle or issue you a citation for a violation of Arizona’s vehicle restraints law unless he or she has reasonable cause to believe that you violated another motor vehicle law.
Your child may be exempt from Arizona’s child restraint system law if he or she is being transported in a motor vehicle originally manufactured without passenger restraint devices or a motor vehicle that is also a recreational vehicle.
Your child may be exempt from Arizona’s child restraint system law if he or she is being transported in a commercial motor vehicle; in an authorized emergency vehicle transporting a child for medical care; or in an emergency to obtain necessary medical care.
Your child may be exempt from Arizona’s child restraint system law if more than one child under eight years old is being transported in a motor vehicle without sufficient area for the required number of child restraint systems, if at least one child is restrained or seated as required and as many other children as possible are secured in child restraint systems.
Your child may be exempt from Arizona’s vehicle restraints law if he or she possesses a written statement from a physician or a registered nurse practitioner indicating that he or she is unable to wear a lap and shoulder belt or lap belt for medical or psychological reasons.
What are the booster seat requirements in Arizona?
Arizona child restraint laws do not specify when a child can ride in a booster seat. The law states that children eight years old and under who are 4’9” or less must be secured in a child restraint system. Follow all height and weight guidelines for your child’s restraint system when securing your child in your vehicle.
What are Arizona’s car seat laws for forward-facing car seats?
Arizona child car seat laws do not state when a child can switch from a rear-facing to a forward-facing car seat. In Arizona, all children under eight years old must ride in an appropriate child restraint system. Follow the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements when selecting a child safety restraint system.
When can my child ride in the front seat in Arizona?
Arizona’s seat belt laws do not explicitly state when a child can ride in the front seat. However, children are safest when they ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
* 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.