Child Safety Seat Laws

Honolulu Police Department statistics state that each year, more than 700 children between the ages of 4 and 7 years old are involved in major car crashes in Hawaii. Children restrained by seat belts are at least 50 percent more at risk for injury than those placed in a child safety or booster seat.

Child Passenger Restraint Law

Hawaii's Child Passenger Restraint Law requires that children ages 4 through 7 years old ride in a child safety seat or booster seat when traveling in a motor vehicle. Children over 4 feet 9 inches, or if the vehicle has lap-only seat belts in the rear seats.

Children who outgrow child safety seats (between 40 and 65 lbs. depending on seat weight limit) should be restrained in a booster seat until they are big enough to fit in an adult seat belt (approximately 80 lbs. and 4'9" tall).

A child under 4'9" is generally too small for an adult seat belt. The proper use of an adult seat belt should have the shoulder harness snug against the chest and the lap belt low and tight across the hips. The adult seat belt will ride up and over the child's stomach with the shoulder belt cutting across the neck, which can cause critical or even fatal injuries during a crash.

Tax Credit

A Hawaii State tax credit of $25 per year applies to the purchase of a booster or child safety seat.

The driver of the vehicle is held responsible for compliance with the law. Violators of the law are required to attend a 4-hour class and may be assessed a fine ranging from $100 to $500, depending on the number of offenses.

Types of car safety seats*

Age: Infants

Type of Seat: Infants seats and rear-facing convertible seats

General Guidelines: All infants should always ride in rear-facing seats until they are at least 1 year of age and weigh at least 20 pounds.

Age: Toddlers & Preschoolers

Type of Seat: Convertible seats

General Guidelines: It is best to ride rear-facing as long as possible. Children 1 year of age and at least 20 pounds can ride forward-facing.

Age: School-aged Children

Type of Seat: Booster seats

General Guidelines: Booster seats are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing car safety seats. Children should stay in a booster seat until adult belts fit correctly (usually when a child reaches about 4'9" in height and is between 8 and 12 years of age.)

Age: Older Children

Type of Seat: Seat belts

General Guidelines: Children who have outgrown their booster seats should ride in a lap and shoulder belt in the back seat until 13 years of age.

*Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

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