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New Hampshire Car Seat Laws

A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in New Hampshire

A Summary of New Hampshire Car Seat Laws

  • Rear-facing seats should be used from birth until at least the age of 2 or until the maximum weight and height limits have been exceeded.
  • Children can transition to forward-facing seats once they outgrow the rear-facing seat requirements.
  • The law requires children under age 6 with a height of less than 57 inches to ride on the appropriate federally approved child restraint device.
  • The AAP recommends children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat of the car.

Rear-facing Car Seat Laws in New Hampshire

The law in New Hampshire does not have specific rules for rear-facing seats, however it does say that children should be secured in the appropriate restraint system. According to AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), rear-facing seats should be used from birth until at least the age of 2 or until the maximum weight and height limits allowed by the manufacturer have been exceeded. To stay rear-facing for a longer period, parents can start with infant-only seats for their newborn and then switch to convertible seats (after 1 year) that have a higher weight limit (up to 40 pounds). Convertibles allow children to remain rear-facing until age 4, and they are cost-effective since they can still be used as a forward-facing seat when the child is big enough. A seat of this type usually comes with harness straps, which should be used to fasten the child to the seat. If secured properly, the straps help protect the child’s fragile body parts such as neck and spine from injury. The seat should be installed in the back seat and away from an active airbag.

Forward Facing Car Seat Laws in New Hampshire

Children can transition to forward-facing seats once they outgrow the rear-facing seat requirements. Typically, this usually happens between age 1-4 years, depending on the type of seat used. A child riding on a forward-facing seat should be secured with the harness straps and tether. The straps should be snug above the child’s collarbone such that no more than one finger can fit in between the strap and shoulder. Also, the seat should be installed in the back seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the seat until the child exceeds the maximum weight and height limits set by the manufacturer. With some seats supporting up to 65 pounds, some children can safely remain forward-facing until age 7.

Booster Seat Regulations in New Hampshire

The law requires children under age 6 with a height of less than 57 inches to ride on the appropriate federally approved child restraint device. This means children who have outgrown forward-facing seats should remain in booster seats until they reach age 6 or until they are 57 inches tall or taller. However, booster seats can support up to 80 pounds, so some children may surpass age 6 while still within the seat’s limits. The main purpose of a booster seat is to lift a child so that he or she can fit in seat belts properly. For a proper fit, the shoulder belt should cross the middle of the chest, and the lap belt should lie snug across the upper thighs. Using a lap-only seat belt with booster seats is highly discouraged. Also, if your car does not have a head-rest, use a high-back booster seat so that your child’s neck and head are supported. Booster seats should be installed in the back seat. When it comes to transitioning your child to safety belts, most experts insist that you should focus on the child’s height rather than age and weight. Since seat belts are designed for adults 57 inches or taller, a child shorter than this height may not fit in a safety belt and can be exposed to stomach and neck injuries in case of an accident. Also, if your child can sit with knees bent at the edge of the seat and back straight against the seat without slouching, then he or she is big enough for a safety belt.

Requirements for children to use the front seat in New Hampshire

New Hampshire does not have any law that covers front seat requirements for children. The AAP recommends children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat of the car. Most experts agree with this because the passenger-side airbags installed in front seats usually deploy with huge forces that can be lethal to children. Also, the rear of the car is considered to be generally safer.

Car Seat Law on Children under 18 years in New Hampshire

All children who have outgrown booster seats and are under 18 years are required by law to ride while wearing safety belts.

Law on leaving a child in a car in New Hampshire

The law does not cover situations where a child is left unsupervised in a car. However, the state has a child endangerment law that can apply in such a situation. It is not recommended to leave your child alone in a vehicle for any length of time.

Law on Smoking in a car with a child in New Hampshire

Currently, New Hampshire is trying to make it a crime to smoke in a car with child passengers. So for now, it is not illegal to do so.

Car Seat Law Exemptions in New Hampshire

Children riding in commercial vehicles such as taxis, school buses, or cars for hire are exempted from complying with the state’s car seat law. For school buses to be exempted, they have to weigh more than 10,000 pounds. Also exempted are cars manufactured before 1968. Children with special needs can be exempted if they provide an individualized education program statement that states the reasons why a child restraint device may not be applicable.

Law on Car Seat Replacement in New Hampshire

The state does not have rules regarding the replacement of car seats. However, car seats usually have expiry dates, so be sure to replace yours if the seat has expired. Remember to replace car seats after a moderate or major crash. If you decide to purchase a used seat, first make sure you know the seat’s background.

More New Hampshire Laws