New Jersey Car Seat Laws (2022) – Rear- or Forward-facing, or Booster

According to New Jersey Child Passenger Safety Law, children under eight years old and a height of 57 inches should ride in the rear seat with a size-appropriate restraint system in compliance with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

This is an updated version that took effect on September 1st, 2015.

New Jersey Child Passenger Restraints Requirements

New Jersey State Legislation in C.39:3-76.2a 1 reads: "Every person operating a motor vehicle, other than a school bus, [...] shall secure the child under 8 years of age and less than 57 inches in height in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat, as described in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 213, in a rear seat."

New Jersey State Regulations

New Jersey Rear-Facing Car Seat Laws

According to New Jersey law in section C.39:3-76.2a subsection 1 part a, children under the age of 2 years and 30 pounds are required to travel in a rear-facing seat equipped with a 5-point harness.

Safety tips:

New Jersey Forward Facing Car Seat Laws

The rules in section C.39:3-76.2a subsection 1 part a indicate that children who are less than 4 years old and 40 pounds can either travel in a rear-facing or forward-facing car seat.

The NJ law requires the parents to keep using the rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, then switch to a forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness.

When should a child be forward-facing NJ?

The New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety indicates that a child can face front when they exceed the weight or height limit of their rear-facing car seats or at least 2 years old.

Safety tips:

  • A 5-point harness is required in both rear-facing and forward-facing car seats.
  • Stick to the current stage until the child reaches the upper weight or height limits allowed by the car seat manufacturers.

What is the Law for Booster Seats in NJ?

Children can travel in a belt-positioning booster seat after they reach the upper limits of the forward-facing seat.

According to the New Jersey regulations section C.39:3-76.2a subsection 1 part c, the booster seat should be used until 8 years old and a height of 57 inches.

Under no circumstance, your child can travel in a booster seat if they are less than 4 years of age, meaning you can keep using the forward-facing seat even after 4 years of age until the child is ready to fit a booster seat.

Safety tips:

  • The booster seat age in New Jersey is eight years old, meaning that your kid will be able to get out of a car seat on the eighth birthday.
  • The NJ law requires a minimum age of 4 to put a child in a booster. This age requirement is also commonly seen in the booster seat description by manufacturers.

Seat Belt Laws for New Jersey

In New Jersey, according to the rules in section NJS 39:3-76.2f, children over 8 years of age or 57 inches in height must be properly secured by a seat belt.

The NJ law does not mention requirements for children in a seat belt. Interpreting the booster seat law and rules in a seat belt, you should keep your child in a booster seat as long as they reach the height or weight limit set by the manufacturer.

The New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety also implements the rules in the seat belts.

Safety tips:

  • Always use Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts for optimal protection.
  • Even the NJ car seat law does not require a maximum age requirement to be secured with a seat belt, but it’s understandable, as big kids and adults should always wear a seat belt for riding.

Penalty for Breaking Car Seat Laws in New Jersey

You can find the punishment of violating the laws and rules in section C.39:3-76.2d  4 on fines.

Failure to obey the regulations in New Jersey will be fined between $50 and $75 for the offense.

New Jersey Car Seat Laws Apply for

The driver is responsible for assuring that each child is properly restrained pursuant to New Jersey laws and rules, no matter whether you are a resident or traveler.

Exceptions

The school bus is mentioned as the only exception in the NJ law in section C.39:3-76.2a subsection 1.

When can a child legally sit in the front seat in New Jersey?

New Jersey law doesn’t give a specific age when your child can sit in the front seat. Experts recommend that you keep your child in the back seat until they are 13.

Taxi Car Seat Law in New Jersey

There are no taxis things mentioned in the NJ law.

Taxicab is considerably required to obey the rules in New Jersey.

Age, Weight, Height Requirements in New Jersey Law

The New Jersey law has age, weight, and height requirements, especially the rear-facing and forward-facing laws. The age and weight requirements are relatively strict. 

Rear-facing (stage 1): under two years old & 30 pounds

Forward-facing (stage 2): four years old & 40 pounds

Booster (stage 3): eight years old and a height of 57 inches

Seat belt (stage 4): over 8 years of age or higher than 57 inches

Best Car Seats to Work with New Jersey Laws

New Jersey car seat laws are comparatively strict on age, weight, and height requirements for rear-facing and forward-facing. 2 years old is an age limit for rear-facing, and 4 years old is another age requirement between the forward-facing and booster, while 8 years old divides the booster and seat belt. 

These ages are quite in accordance with the four stages.

Rear-Facing Car Seat for Infants and Small Toddlers

Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat

Chicco NextFit Zip

$299.99*

The Chicco NextFit Zip features a very high height limit up to 43 inches, making it one of the best seats for longer rear-facing of 2 years old

Forward-Facing for Big Toddlers and Preschoolers

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

Graco Extend2Fit

This convertible car seat is great enough to meet the New Jersey parent’s need to ride their kids in the rear- and front-facing for a longer time. It features 50-lb rear-facing weight limit.

When using it facing front, the 65-lb weight limit makes it go through the preschool ages – 3 years old, 4 years old, and 5 years old.

Booster Seats for Big Kids

Graco TurboBooster Backless Booster

Graco TurboBooster Backless Booster

$24.99*

The Graco TurboBooster is the most popular and best budget car seat to meet the Alabama State Law to ride older children, six or seven years old, or even bigger. While six years of age is relatively younger than other states’ eight years of age requirement, it’s sooner for Alabama children to get rid of a car seat.

But for parents in Alabama, you may keep your kid in a car seat as long as possible for safety’s sake.

Sources

FAQs about New Jersey Car Seat Laws

My son is 7 years old and is 58 inches tall. Is he required to ride in a booster seat?

No. Once a child is 8 years of age, s/he no longer needs to ride in a booster seat, but s/he must be secured in a properly adjusted seat belt.
Note: While the children described above are exempt from the child restraint law, the seat belt may not fit them properly. The lap belt should lay across the child’s upper thigh (the pant’s pocket area) and across the chest and collar bone (so that it’s not cutting into the neck)

Use the seat belt fit test on all children under 13 years of age to be sure they are big enough to safely use the adult seat belt without a booster seat.

  1. Have the child sit all the way back on the vehicle seat. Check to see if the knees bend naturally at the seat edge. If they do, continue the test. If they do not – the child should continue to ride in a booster seat.
  2. Buckle the lap and shoulder belt. Be sure the lap belt lies across the upper legs (the pant’s pocket area). If it lays across the upper thighs, move on to the next step. If it does not, the child should continue to ride in a booster seat.
  3. Be sure the shoulder belt lies on the shoulder or collarbone (and is not cutting into the neck). If it lies on the shoulder, move to the next step. If it is on the face or neck, the child should continue to ride in a booster seat. DO NOT place the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the child’s back!
  4. Be sure that your child can maintain the correct seating position for as long as you are in the car. If your child begins to slouch or shift position so the safety belt contacts the face, neck, or abdomen, the child should continue to ride a booster seat until all the steps can be met.