Washington Car Seat Laws & Requirements

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Each state has different car seat laws. These are designed for the safety of parents and children.

As a driver or parent, you must understand these laws fully to keep children and other passengers safe.

Here I will be talking about these laws.

Car seat laws in Washington are to be properly understood by every person who will be driving a car with a child.

If the child is under two years of age, he or she should be in a rear-facing car seat, with forward-facing car seats being used for children between ages 2-4 and only if they’ve outgrown rear-facing car seats.

The shift to booster car seats is to be made after the child has outgrown the forward-facing car seats and is older than four years old.

The information provided in this article is relevant and vital to this topic. So, without any further wait, let’s jump into the article!

Washington Car Seat Requirements By Ages

What are the seat requirements for child car seats in Washington state? Read my in-depth guide to find out

This is the most important section of the article. I’ll be covering all the age ranges till ten years old.

1 Year Old

Infants who are of age one should be in rear-facing car seats.

These seats are easier to install and much safer for the child, especially for his or her head and spine, if the car has an accident.

2 Year Old

Rear-facing seats are the safest for a two-year-old infant as is mandated by the state of Washington.

This is the case until the child has exceeded the height and weight limit of the car seat and is older than two years.

3 Year Old

It is required that children until the age of 4 should be in a seat with a harness.

The seat can be either rear or forward-facing, but since the rear-facing seats are safer than the forward-facing ones, it is better to use rear-facing seats and gradually transition to the forward-facing ones.

4 Year Old

Now children can be transitioned into booster car seats. Children should be kept in booster car seats until they are at least 57 inches.

Please note that forward-facing car seats can still be used, as it is advised not to immediately switch to booster-car seats.

5 Year Old

Typically, at this age, the child is transitioned fully into the booster-car seat, a special seat to keep the child safe by ensuring that they don’t slide under the shoulder and lap belt in the event of a crash.

6 Year Old

Children should now be using the booster car seats unless they are over 57 inches. Children who are six years old can start to use seat belts.

7 – 9 Year Old

The legal age for a child to use a normal car seat is 8. If the child is over 57 inches and over 8, then they must ride on a normal car seat with a properly fitted and secured seat belt.

However, if a child cannot use a normal car seat, the usage of booster-car seats should be continued.

10 Year Old

At this age, the child should be using a normal car seat with a seat belt unless they cannot, in which case a booster-car seat is to be used.

Typically children use booster-car seats till 10 or 11 years old.

Please do note that until the age of 13, children are required to travel only in the backseat of the car, regardless of their height or weight.

Car Seat Weight And Height Requirements In Washington

In the state of Washington, there aren’t clear-cut weight and height requirements for some cases.

A child should transition from a rear to a forward-facing car seat between the ages of 2-4 if they’ve outgrown the rear-facing seat.

The transition to booster-car seats is done when the child is older than four years and can use the booster car seat.

The child remains in the booster car seat until he or she is 57 inches in height and 8. After that, the child can legally be in a normal car seat with a properly secured seat belt.

Do note that, as mentioned above, children are to remain in the backseat of the car till they are 13 years old. There are no weight requirements or limits set by the state of Washington.

Type Of Car Seat Laws In Washington

Car seat laws are important to know in every state of the US, especially in the state of Washington, where ignorance of these laws may lead to penalties such as fines, imprisonment, cancellation of driver’s license for a minimum of 1 year (this period increases with the number of offenses regarding leaving a child under 16 years of age unattended in the car as discussed later).

1. Rear Facing Car Seat

Children below the age of 2 must be in a rear-facing car seat. It protects the child’s head and spine in the case of an accident like a car crash. They are also easy to install.

2. Forward Facing Car Seat

Between the ages of 2-4, children are required to ride in either rear or forward-facing car seats with a proper harness.

These seats also have side impact protection for the head of the child, along with protection for the spine.

3. Booster Seat

Children above the age of 4 are to ride in booster-car seats until they reach the age of 8 and are of a height of 57 inches.

Booster seats are used, so the child is raised, and the seat belt fits them around their chest and lap.

There should be no tension in the belt. Booster seats may even be used after the child has turned eight and has a height exceeding 5 inches.

Children do typically end up requiring the need for booster car seats till about the age of 10 or 11 years old.

When Is The Time For My Child To Sit In The Front Seat In Washington?

Children are to sit in the backseat till they are 13 years old. Even after that, if the child is less than 57 inches, they must sit in the backseat.

What Happens If You Leave Your Child In A Car In Washington?

If a child under 16 is left unattended in a vehicle with the motor running, it is considered a misdemeanor.

However, if this offense is done and caught more than once, the driver’s license is revoked for a year.

Thus, it is advised not to leave your child unattended in any vehicle. This can lead to penalties if the child is under 16.

Taxi Car Seat Laws In Washington

Taxi drivers are also to follow car seat laws stated by the state of Washington.

They can only take children if the appropriate type of car seat is properly installed and secured in the back of their car for all children below the age of 13.

They can be exempt from child restraint requirements if they are registered as such with the proper authority.

Washington Law Regarding Car Seats In Accidents

Accidents are a horrifying experience, and with a child involved, the severity of the situation worsens.

In the case of an accident, the priority should be to get the child out of the car and tend to his or her injuries.

Washington currently does not have any law that says that the car seats and restraints must be replaced after an accident.

This is unfortunate and an area of improvement for the state of Washington.

Thus, the best thing to do is to replace the car seats yourself by either calling up your insurance or going to the workshop to get it done yourself.

Uber Car Seat Laws In Washington

Uber is not exempt from child restraint requirements unless they are registered as such with the proper authority.

Even then, it is advised for them to have the proper car seat equipment for children of different ages till 12 years.

Parents should bring appropriate child restraints with them if they plan on going on an Uber or taxi.

Failure to do so could result in the driver refusing to drive the parents and further penalties.


Car seat guidelines may be confusing, but they are there for a reason.

They must be followed as that is best for the safety and security of the children, parents, drivers, and even passengers.

You should always try your best to do what is safest and best for your child.

Therefore, while driving, these laws must be followed with the appropriate knowledge as they vary from state to state.

Thus, the Washington car seat laws are a good standard guideline. Failure to do so could lead to heavy fines and even jail time.