Connecticut strengthens car seat law

On Oct. 1, a new law designed to strengthen motor vehicle restraint system requirements for children goes into effect in Connecticut.

The new law will increase the threshold age and weight at which children must be placed in rear-facing child-restraint seats and the maximum age at which children must be secured in certain types of child restraints, including booster seats.

Child restraint requirements under the new law are:

  • Children under two years of age or less than 30 pounds must be in a rear-facing child restraint.

  • Children two to four years of age or 30 through 39 pounds must be in a rear- or forward-facing child restraint.

  • Children five to seven years of age or 40 through 59 pounds must be in a rear- or forward-facing restraint or a booster seat secured by a lap-and-shoulder seat belt.

  • Children eight to 15 years old and at least 60 pounds must be in a child restraint or wearing a seat belt.

The new law will also require all child restraints be equipped with a five-point harness and prohibits the placement of children in rear-facing restraints in the front seat of vehicles with functional passenger side airbags.

As under existing state law, all child-restraint systems must be approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

People who break the law will receive an infraction for their first violation and a fine of up to $199 for their second violation. Each violation after that will be a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.

Wilton Police Department

The Wilton Police Department offers free child safety-seat installation for residents.

Officer Michael Tyler is one of the department’s three car-seat technicians, who are certified by Connecticut Safe Kids and have attended week-long training on the correct installation of child safety seats.

The Wilton Police Department installs around 40 to 45 car seats a year, said Tyler, who also conduct clinics in other towns, including one recently in Danbury.

Tyler said the department also keeps child safety seats at its headquarters for people who need them.

“If we pull somebody over and they don’t have a safety seat, sometimes — instead of a ticket — we’ll give them one of the safety seats we have,” said Tyler.

Residents with recalled car seats or ones their children have outgrown can also get new ones at the police station, said Tyler.

“We’ll give them one of ours,” he said. “That’s part of our program.”

To learn more or schedule a car-seat installation appointment with the Wilton Police Department, call 203-834-6260.

Click here to view House Bill No 6956 (An Act Concerning the Use of Child Restraint Systems).