Booster seat laws: How old is your child? How big? It matters.

“Ah, geez!” said my son, throwing himself back on his bed when I mistakenly told him about the new booster seat laws two nights ago at lights out. He just turned 7. In his mind, this is an invitation for older kids to tease him.

Starting in February, it’s back into a booster seat for him. In Ohio, the governor just signed a bill that requires children to be in a booster seat until age 8–or until they reach 4-feet 9-inches tall, the magic height when a seat belt will fit them properly. I heard about this change on the radio on my way home. According to what I heard, what was written about the law back in December currently holds.

The law, as it was signed, says that a police officer can’t pull over a motorist for the booster seat violation unless there is another reason to stop the vehicle. Failure to yield, faulty lights, driving while drunk, etc., etc., etc. Even though the law will be in effect in February, there is a grace period where drivers only will get a warning. After that, tickets will be given. The fines will vary from $25 to $75. Different counties will decide how much the fine will be.

Awhile back, I wrote a post about other states’ booster seat laws because we were traveling in states where the older age limit already applied. Here is a more current link to a map of the U.S. with state booster seat laws. Because it was last updated in June of 2008, it doesn’t reflect Ohio’s change, I recommend checking a state you will be visiting in order to find out the current regulations.

My son might have reached the height limit already. He’ll be pleased. Although I think it’s better to be safe than sorry, I can see how it’s going to be hard to get older kids back into a booster seat now that they see themselves as bigger.

With more and more states adopting the same age and height regulations, it seems that it would behoove car companies to design cars that can accommodate the changes. Why not design seat belts made for children who are out of toddler-hood? They could be adjusted as a child grows.

As my son and his friends grew out of car seats, it meant they could comfortably fit in the back seat of our car. Three booster seats won’t fit.

For a handy information about car seat and booster seat safety guidelines, check out this page from the Academy of Pediatrics website.

The booster seat in the picture is made by Graco and the kind we bought. It works great on long car trips. This summer we drove from Columbus to Missoula, Montana and back without a complaint–at least not about the car seat.