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Q

Is there an age, height or weight limit for a child to sit in the front seat in Washington State? What are the child restraint laws and penalties? Will this type of ticket raise my rates?


A

At 13 years of age Washington State says you may allow a child to ride in the front seat of your vehicle.

Washington State law (RCW 46.37.510, subsection c) tells us that the "driver of a vehicle transporting a child who is under 13 years old shall transport the child in the back seat of a vehicle where it is practical to do so." If do you allow your child in the front seat, you must still follow the state's child restraint laws in place for the age/height of your child.

The child restraint laws in Washington state say that a child less than eight years old must be restrained in child restraint systems, unless the child is four feet nine inches or taller. A child who then is eight years old or older, or four feet nine inches or taller, must be properly restrained either with the motor vehicle's safety belt or an appropriately fitting child restraint system.

The state defines a child restraint system as being a child car seat, booster seat, vest, or other restraint that is federally approved for use in the car. A child who is allowed to wear only a seat belt must use it correctly (never under the arm or behind the back) or continue to use a booster.

Washington law provides that law enforcement officers use visual inspection to determine if a child restraint system in use is appropriate for the child's individual height, weight, and age. If they find that it is not or believe that your child is at risk in the front seat and there was not a practical reason for the child to be seated there, then you could be ticketed.

The penalty in Washington State for improperly restrained children (up to the age of 16) in motor vehicles is a fine of around $125 per child. If the passenger is over the age of 16 then the teen, instead of the driver, would be ticketed if found to not properly be using a safety belt.

If you were to get this type of ticket, generally it will not cause your insurance premiums to rise, however, some car insurance companies may remove any good driver discount you have. While technically is not raising your car insurance rates, the bottom line is you will end up paying higher premiums. Your agent could best tell you about your auto insurance company's rating system.

If your rates go up due to a traffic ticket, or you are just ready to shop around for cheaper insurance rates, come to CarInsurance.com. We offer multiple company insurance rates and the ability to purchase from one place; we are ahead of other online insurance companies. Start your free auto insurance quote here to see how companies compete for your business.


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