Car Seats, Child Restraint Safety Laws

New Jersey (NJ) Car Seat Laws & Booster Laws 2024

Kate Nash

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Like New York and several other states, New Jersey recently updated its baby car seat laws, and Kate Carballo, an attorney and mum explain it in this short 1.25-minute video:

Car seats are meant to be straightforward, involving purchasing and installing it in your car, and changing as your baby grows. The Garden State, however, has a reputation for having the most strenuous car seat laws in the US. It includes strict rules and sheer penalties for those who overlook strapping their kids into the right seats.

The following recommendations concur with the NHTS and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for the most secure way to transport your child. They also comply with New Jersey’s Child Passenger Restraint Law – Title 39:3-76.2a.

New Jersey Front Seat Laws

New Jersey has no specific laws regarding when children aged 8 years and above can shift from the back seat to the front seat. Until the age of 13, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearly state that children should not be allowed to the front seat.

According to New Jersey’s law, children can ride in the front seat or a booster seat if the vehicle they are traveling in does not have a back seat. These vehicles include a sports car or a pick-up truck. If the baby is using a rear-facing car seat strapped to the front seat, you must shut off or disable the car’s passenger-side airbag. Airbag force can cause injuries to a young baby.

New Jersey Car Seat Laws Rear-Facing

According to New Jersey State car seat laws, infants to children below 2 years, with less than 30 lbs. must be in the rear-facing car seat, with a 5-point harness. This means that even tall kids or those with long legs are not an exemption, age is the limit here.

Children below 4 years, and weighing 40 lbs. also belong to this category with the same specifications. 

New Jersey Car Seat Laws Forward-Facing

New Jersey State car laws provide that children with a height below 57 inches and those aged below 8 years must be secured in the forward-facing car seat equipped with a five-point harness. They must maintain this position until they can proceed to child booster seat laws.

New Jersey Car Seat Laws Booster Seats

New Jersey car seat law states that a child can move to the booster seat when they reach the upper limit of forward-facing. To ensure safety, the booster seat should be secured with a 5-point harness. They should keep using booster seats until they get to age 8 years or 57 inches tall.

If your child exceeds 57 inches in height, say 58 inches, they can switch to an adult seat belt, even if they have not attained 8 years.

New Jersey Car Seat Laws Recent Changes 

New Jersey’s old law required all children less than 8 years and over 80 lbs. to travel in the rear of a car in either a booster seat or a child safety seat. Those aged 18 and above had to wear a standard seat belt. The State now uses a new law titled An Act Concerning Child Passenger Restraint Systems to ensure children’s safety.

There are also changes in fines, from $10-$25 to $50-$75 under the revised law, if you do not adhere to the set rules on car seats.

Car Seat Replacement after Accident

There are no specific laws addressing this issue in the New Jersey car seat laws, unlike other states like California. But according to NHTSA, car seats should be replaced after either a severe or moderate car crash. This ensures the ultimate safety of your child during rides and travel. If your car suffers a minor crash, there is no need to automatically replace the car seat.

What does a minor crash mean? The car was driven off from the crash site, the door next to the car seat was not dented, no passenger sustained injuries after the crash, and the car seat shows no damage. Also, it is considered minor if the vehicle’s airbags did not deploy after the crash.