COLORADO CAR SEAT LAWS
Car seats are a literal lifesaver for children in motor vehicles. Unfortunately, many Americans either do not use appropriate car seats for their children or do not correctly install them.
Colorado car seat laws are designed to help improve the safety of children when they are traveling in a vehicle. Understanding how car seats protect kids, how to properly install them, and how to avoid improper car seat use can help you and your family avoid preventable injuries following a car accident.
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What are the current child seat laws in Colorado?
Colorado children’s car seat laws currently require infants to be in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of a vehicle up to age one and until they weigh at least 20 pounds. Children age 1 to 4 must be in a rear or forward-facing car seat. For children ages 4-8, booster seats and seat belts are required. From ages 8-16, wearing a seatbelt is required at all times.
Colorado Car Seat Laws at a Glance
- Infant to age 1 and 20 pounds – Rear-facing car seat in the back seat
- Ages 1-4 – Rear or forward-facing car seat
- Ages 4-8 – Booster seat and seat belt
- Ages 8-16 – Seat belts required
Colorado law requires that all car seats must be federally approved. Children ages 1 to 4 must continue to use their car seat with a harness until they reach the weight and height to use a booster seat safely. For children using a booster seat with a seat belt, the shoulder belt installed in the vehicle is acceptable.
If you are unsure how to install your child’s car seat, contact the Colorado State Patrol at 303-239-4537 and ask for assistance in installing your child’s car seat. Additionally, your local fire department can help you with a car seat installation or inspection.
Rear-facing car seats
Infants up to 12 months and 20 pounds must use a rear-facing car seat. Colorado Revised Statutes § 42-4-236(2)(a)(II) states children less than one year old and under 20 pounds must be properly restrained in a rear-facing child restraint system in a rear seat in the vehicle.
What are child booster seat laws in Colorado?
Booster child restraint systems should be used for children up to 8 years old and are recommended for children weighing above 40 lbs. Children should be properly secured in a child restraint system, including a booster seat, according to manufacturer’s instructions.
What are car seat age limits for sitting in the front seat?
Whether you have a two-seater vehicle or are curious about when your child can sit in the front, you may ask these questions:
- At what age can my child sit in the front seat with a booster seat?
- How tall do you have to be to sit in the front seat in Colorado?
- Are there age restrictions for sitting in the front seat in Colorado?
In Colorado, children can legally sit in the front seat beginning at age 1 and 20 lb. However, the Colorado Department of Transportation and child passenger safety experts strongly recommend that children sit in the back seat until they reach the age of 13. Rear seats are the safest place for a child to be in the event of an accident.
If your child can legally sit in the front seat, however, they must be in an appropriately fitted car seat or using a booster seat as required by Colorado front seat laws.
Car seats on public transportation
Colorado law created exemptions to the car seat law, including commercial motor vehicles. Public transportation — like city buses and trains — meets the definition of commercial motor vehicles. Therefore, children using them for transport are not required to have car seats or lap belts as in passenger vehicles.
There are also exceptions to child car seat laws in cases where a child is being transported as a result of a medical or other life-threatening injury and a child restraint system is not available for use.
Are daycare facilities exempt from Colorado car seat laws?
Daycare facilities are required to follow car seat laws. If the vehicle is any size up to a 15-passenger van, all children must be in appropriate car seats. Vehicles operated by daycare centers designed to transport 16 or more passengers meet the definition of a commercial motor vehicle and are exempt from car seat laws. Daycare employees must have a commercial driver’s license to drive a vehicle designed for 16 or more passengers.
What are the penalties for car seat violations in Colorado?
A parent or vehicle operator who does not ensure that a child is in the proper car seat may be charged with a Class B traffic infraction. The fine is $65 plus a $6 surcharge. Jail is not a possibility, and there are no license points. The penalty may be waived with proof that you have acquired the right car seat by the time of your court appearance.
What are the risks of no car seat or improper car seat use?
The biggest risk associated with not using a proper car seat for your baby or improper use of a car seat with older children is the risk of injury or fatality. Car seats are designed to protect children in the event of a collision.
Without a car seat or with the improper use of one, the risk of injury or death increases significantly. Even in a minor collision, a child can be thrown around violently in a vehicle. In the event of a major collision, a child can be ejected from a vehicle, causing life-threatening injuries and even death.
A multistate study found that child restraint misuse was more common in rural locations (91%) than in urban locations (83%). Additionally, children in rural areas are more likely to fall victim to a lack of car seat usage. In 2020, 607 child passengers aged 12 and younger were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Of these accidents, 38% were not in appropriate car restraint systems.
The lack of car seat usage or misuse of one increases the likelihood that a child will face severe lifelong injuries, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and other health concerns if they are involved in a car accident.
Speak with a car seat accident attorney
Our Colorado car accident lawyers want all children to be safe on the roads. We advocate for children who are in car accidents, including those who have been injured because of another motorist’s negligence or a defective car seat system.
We are conveniently located in five Colorado locations near you:
If you or your child has been in an accident, our attorneys for accidents involving car seats can help you investigate and understand your legal rights. Our personal injury lawyers are ready to serve you and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Colorado Child Passenger Safety Law. (2022).
Written and Legally Reviewed By: Kyle Bachus
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Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.