Editor’s note: This article was updated in 2022 to link to a more appropriate section of the relevant statute and to reflect updates to the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act effective in 2021.
In Illinois law, the Child Passenger Protection Act states that a person transporting a child under eight years old on a road, street, or highway in a non-commercial motor vehicle, a truck or truck tractor with seat safety belts, a motor vehicle weighing 9,000 pounds or less, or a recreational vehicle is responsible for properly securing the child in an appropriate children restraint system. If you are a parent or legal guardian, you are required by law to provide a child restraint system to anyone transporting your child.
Babies and Children Up to Two Years Old
Any person transporting a child under two years old in a motor vehicle designed to carry no more than ten people, or in a motor vehicle used for freight, cargo, farming, or recreation and weighing 9,000 pounds or less, must properly secure the child in a rear facing child restraint system until the child weighs forty pounds or more or is forty inches tall or more. A child restraint system is a device designed to restrain, seat, or position a child and must meet the United States Department of Transportation standards.
Children Two to Eight Years Old
Any person transporting children between the ages of two and eight in a first division non-commerical motor vehicle, a second division vehicle with a weight rating up to 9,000 pounds, any truck or tractor equipped with safety belts, or a recreational vehicle must secure the child in an appropriate child passenger restraint system for his or her height and weight.
Parents must provide an appropriate child passenger restraint system to anyone who is transporting their child.
A child between two and eight years old that weighs more than forty pounds may ride in the back seat of a motor vehicle wearing only a lap belt if the motor vehicle does not have a combination lap and shoulder belt.
Children Eight to Fifteen Years Old
Any person transporting a child between eight and fifteen years old is responsible for properly securing that child in a seat belt.
Children Eight to Eighteen Years Old
If the person transporting a child between eight and eighteen years old is also under eighteen years old, that person is responsible for securing that child in a seat safety belt that is correctly adjusted and fastened or in an appropriate child restraint system.
If the person transporting a child between eight and eighteen years old is over eighteen years old but was convicted of a moving violation in the six months prior to his or her eighteenth birthday, that person is responsible for securing that child in a seat safety belt that is correctly adjusted and fastened or in an appropriate child restraint system until six consecutive months have elapsed without another conviction for a moving violation.
Penalties for Violations
The Child Passenger Protection Act states that Illinois State Police may patrol and make arrests for violating the act. Officers can make arrests if the violation occurs on the highway within the limits of a county, village, unincorporated town, city, or park district.
A first violation of the Child Passenger Protection Act is a petty offense and is punishable by a $75.00 fine. If you are charged with a first violation, you will not be convicted if you provide satisfactory evidence to the court that you have an approved child restraint system and that you completed an instructional course on installing a child restraint system.
A second or subsequent offense of the Child Passenger Protection Act is also a petty offense but is punishable by a $200.00 fine. You may not avoid conviction for a second or subsequent offense by proving to the court that you have an approved child restraint system and that you complete an instructional course.
However, you may schedule a child passenger safety instructional course with a child passenger safety technician or technician instructor certified by the National Child Passenger Safety Training Program. This course will include instruction on the proper installation of a child restraint system and an inspection of the child restraint system. Upon completion, the technician will issue a letter for you to submit at your mandatory court appearance date indicating that you voluntarily participated in and completed the instructional course.
The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act does not apply to motorcycles.
Your child may be exempt from the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act if he or she has a physical disability that prevents him or her from being appropriately restrained in a seat and if his or her disability has been duly certified by a physician. The physician must state the nature of your child’s disability and the reason that your child is unable to be appropriately restrained.
What is the Illinois booster seat law?
The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act doesn’t specify when a child should ride in a booster seat. Illinois car seat law states that children between the ages of 2 and 8 should ride in an appropriate restraint system. Make sure your child falls within the guidelines of age, height, and weight for your booster seat before securing your child.
What are the Illinois car seat laws for forward facing car seats?
Illinois car seat law does not have a stipulation for when a child can ride in a forward facing car seat. The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act states that children up to two years old that weigh up to forty pounds and are at least 40” tall must be secured in a rear facing car seat. The law states that children over two years old and under eight years old must ride in a restraint system that is appropriate for their age, height, and weight. Check the guidelines on your child’s restraint system before transporting your child.
How old do you have to be to sit in the front seat in Illinois?
Illinois car seat laws do not state when a child can ride in the front seat. The Illinois Secretary of State’s website recommends keeping your child in the back seat until they are 12 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.