Booster Seat Laws in Illinois

In Illinois, children 12 years and younger may be required to sit in an appropriately sized booster seat until they exceed the height and weight limit.
Written by Pat Roache
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act requires children ages eight and under to be properly secured in an appropriately sized booster seat with a lap and shoulder safety belt. The state further recommends that children should stay in a booster seat up to the age of 12 until they are tall enough to properly fit in an adult lap and shoulder belt.
Keeping your child in a car seat may seem like common sense when it comes to your young one’s car safety, but there’s a lot more to it.
Illinois
has passed specific legislation to target the safety of passengers 12 years and younger, for whom automobile accidents can be a leading cause of death without the proper safety measures.
We're here to cover all the details you need to know about Illinois’s booster seat laws. We’re looking at the Prairie State’s requirements and recommendations, plus the penalties for neglecting the law.
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What is the booster seat law in Illinois?

According to Illinois legislation and
seat-belt laws
, passengers who are age eight and under are required to ride in a properly fitted and
installed child car seat
in the back seat of a vehicle. The state’s requirements and recommendations are further broken up by age group, so let’s take a look at these guidelines in more detail:
  • Newborn to 2 years old: Children below the age of two are legally required to sit in a rear-facing restraint seat in the backseat of a vehicle. Even those more than 40 pounds in weight or 40 inches in height must remain rear-facing.
  • 2 to 4 years old: Children in this age range should remain rear-facing for as long as possible. Once they outgrow the rear-facing seat’s manufacturer height and weight limitations, they can be switched to a front-facing harness restraint seat.
  • 4 to 8 years old: Once they outgrow the manufacturer's recommended limitations of a front-facing harness restraint seat, children in this age range must be moved to a belt-positioning booster seat.
  • 8 to 12 years old: Children are recommended to remain in a booster seat until they outgrow the limitations and can sit with an adult lap belt fitting across their thighs (not their stomach) and an adult shoulder belt fitting snugly across their shoulder and chest (not the neck or head).
The only exception to these regulations? Children over 40 pounds in weight or 40 inches in height are not required to sit in a restraint seat if the backseat of the vehicle is only equipped with lap restraint belts as opposed to lap and shoulder belts. 
Whether they’re required to be in a booster seat or not, children in Illinois should remain in the back seat of a vehicle until the age of 12
Key Takeaway Children over 40 pounds and under the age of 8 must remain in a properly fitted booster seat with proper restraints in the back seat of a vehicle with proper lap and shoulder belts.

How to pick your booster or car seat

While it’s clear that the law requires a properly fitted restraint/booster seat for children age 8 and under—and recommends these measures up to the age of 12—it’s up to you to choose the best car seat for your child
Luckily for Illinois residents, the state offers a few programs to help you understand and choose the right car seat for your child:
  • Child Safety Seat Programs: Take an educational program in children’s car safety by filling out a
    Traffic Safety Program Request Form
    (choose “Child Passenger Safety Program) or by calling 866-247-0213
  • Safety Seat Fitting Stations: Get your child’s safety seat inspected to make sure it’s right for your child at a Secretary of State office by filling out a
    Request a Child Safety Seat Inspection form
    or calling 866-247-0213
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How to safely install a booster or car seat 

Installing your child’s booster seat will often depend on the instructions from the manufacturer, but here are some important details to keep in mind to keep your child as safe as possible:
  • Never position a rear-facing restraint seat opposite an active airbag
  • Never use a restraint seat that’s beyond its expiration date or more than six years old
  • Always check all the parts, instructions, and history for a used child restraint seat
  • Only use additional toys or belt-tightening tools that are approved by the manufacturer
  • Register your seat with the manufacturer to stay up-to-date on any recalls
If you still need help with installation, the moderator at your Secretary of State’s safety seat fitting station can help, or you can find detailed instructions and
other inspection stations
with help from the NHTSA. 

What are the penalties for breaking the booster seat law in Illinois?

Violating the Illinois booster seat law is considered a petty offense and punishable by a $75 fine. Any subsequent violation is punishable by a $200 fine.
These charges and penalties are subject to change depending on the circumstances of the violation. More serious acts of child endangerment can lead to misdemeanor and felony charges punishable by jail time and fines in the thousands of dollars.
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How breaking booster seat laws can impact insurance in Illinois

Although Illinois doesn’t use a
driver's license point system
to track your driving violations, violating the state’s booster seat laws will still end up on your driving record and could result in increased
car insurance rates
Three moving violations in one year will result in a
suspended Illinois license
, but one moving violation could be enough to see your insurance rates increase significantly. Check your provider’s policies to see how different violations can affect your monthly premium costs.

Finding cheap car insurance

It’s not cheap to keep your family safe and happy, but the car insurance experts at
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