NC Child Passenger Safety Law - G.S. 20-137.1
Summary of law
updated 11-14-07

Ages/Positions Covered:
» Children less than age 16 in front or back seats are covered under the NC Child Passenger Safety law.

 

» Drivers and passengers 16 years old and older are covered by the NC Seat Belt Law.

Vehicles Covered:
» All vehicles required by federal standards to have seat belts are covered. In general, these are cars made after 1967, light trucks and vans made after 1971, and large buses including school and municipal buses.

Restraint Required:
» A properly used child restraint device (CRD) is required if the child is less than 8 years old AND weighs less than 80 pounds. Most parents and other care givers will be able to comply by using belt-positioning booster seats for children between 40 and 80 pounds. The child must be within the weight range for the child restraint/booster seat and it must meet Federal standards in effect at time of manufacture.

» Children may be secured in a properly fitted seat belt at age 8 (regardless of weight) OR at 80 pounds (regardless of age) - whichever comes first. Placing the shoulder belt under a child’s (or adult’s) arm or behind the back is both dangerous and illegal.

» If no seating position equipped with a lap and shoulder belt to properly secure a belt positioning booster seat is available, a child who weighs at least 40 pounds may be restrained by a properly fitted lap belt only. WARNING: Belt-positioning booster seats can only be used with lap and shoulder combination safety belts. Belt-positioning booster seats must NEVER be used with just a lap belt.

Refer to " What are Options for Children over 40 pounds? in the "Choosing and Using" section for additional information on booster seats and safer alternatives for lap-belt-only seating positions.

Position in Vehicle:
» The CRD must be installed in the rear seat if the child is less than age 5 and 40 lbs.and if the vehicle has a passenger side air bag and a rear seat.
» Front seat installation is allowed if the CRD is designed for use with air bags.

Exemptions*:
» Vehicles not required to have belts (such as cars made before 1968 and pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans made before 1972, and large buses)
» Ambulances and other emergency vehicles
» If all seating positions with belts are occupied

*NOTE: Recently enacted legislation will remove the "personal needs" exemption effective as of June 1, 2007.

Responsibility/Penalties:
» Driver responsible for all children less than sixteen
» Penalty not to exceed $25
» Full court costs apply (currently $120)
» Two (2) driver license points
» No insurance points
» No conviction if the child is less than 8 years old and proof is presented at trial that an appropriate CRD/Booster seat has been acquired for a vehicle in which the child is normally transported since the violation.