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Illinois Car Seat Laws

A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in Illinois

  • Children under the age of 2 years who weigh less than 40 pounds or with a height less than 40’’ should ride on a rear-facing seat.
  • A child can legally graduate to a forward-facing seat once he or she weighs 40 pounds or has a height of 40’’.
  • There are no specific laws that list the booster seat and forward-facing seat requirements for the state of Illinois.
  • The NHTSA recommends children should sit on booster seats from ages 8 to 12.
  • Illinois allows children 8 years or older to use safety belts.

Rear-facing Car Seat Laws in Illinois

Illinois car seat laws require children under the age of 2 years who weigh less than 40 pounds or with a height less than 40’’ to ride on a rear-facing seat. If a child is under 1 year and weighs less than 20 pounds, the state insists the infant should always be in a rear-facing seat. This type of seat should never be in the front seat or near an active airbag. The straps securing the child should be snug to protect the child’s neck and spine from injury in case of a crash. Also, pediatrics recommend children should remain rear-facing for as long as possible until they exceed the seat’s height and weight requirements set by the manufacturer.

Forward Facing Car Seat Laws in Illinois

Illinois law does not cover anything to do with forward-facing seat requirements. However, going by the rear-facing seat requirements, children 2 years or older can legally graduate to a forward-facing seat once they weigh 40 pounds or have a height of 40’’. Currently, rear-facing seats can support children up to 40 pounds. This means your child can remain in a rear-facing seat until 4 years of age since it takes that long for children to achieve the maximum weight of rear-facing seats. In line with the U.S. Department of Transportation standards, the Illinois Secretary of the State office says children should graduate to forward-facing seats between the ages 4-8 years and when the maximum height and weight requirements of the rear-facing seat have been exceeded. Children should be secured with a 5 point harness in the back seat until they exceed the manufacturer’s weight and height requirements.

Booster Seat Regulations in Illinois

There are no specific laws that list the booster seat requirements for the state of Illinois. However, the state’s car seat law requires children to be restrained with the appropriate child restraint system that meets the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a branch of DOT and is tasked with setting the child-safety seat standards. The NHTSA recommends children should sit on booster seats from ages 8 to 12. It is also within the law to graduate your child to a booster seat if they exceed the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements for rear-facing seats. Booster seats should be secured using the shoulder belt and lap belt (don’t use only the lap belt). For a perfect fit, the lap belt should lie across the upper thighs and shoulder belt across the chest area. Booster seats can support a weight of up to 80 pounds, so your child should remain in this seat until he or she exceeds the seat’s maximum weight or when a height of 4’9’’ is reached.

Requirements for children to use the front seat in Illinois

Legally, children 8 years or older can sit in the front seat as long as they are wearing a safety belt. However, most experts agree that you should keep your child in the back seat for as long as possible, and NHTSA recommends children should sit in the back seat until they are 13 years or older. Also, the recommended height for seat belts is 4’9’’ since this is the height at which seat belts fit perfectly.

Law on Cars without Shoulder Belts in Illinois

A child weighing at least 40 pounds is allowed to ride in the back seat of the car with only a lap belt in place if no shoulder belt is available.

Law on Leaving a Child in a Car in Illinois

It is illegal to leave a child unsupervised inside a car for more than 10 minutes unless he or she is left with someone 14 years or older. We recommend to never leave your child alone in a vehicle.

Car Seat Laws Exemptions in Illinois

Commercial vehicles such as taxis are exempted from complying with the state’s car seat laws. However, parents are required to provide an appropriate child restraint device to anyone transporting their children.

More Illinois Laws