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How old do you have to be to sit in the front seat?


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Question: How old do you have to be to sit in the front seat in New Jersey?

Answer: The New Jersey child passenger safety law (N.J.S.A 39:3-76.2a) states that children up to age eight or a weight of 80 pounds must ride in a federally approved safety or booster seat in the rear seat of the vehicle. If there is no rear seat, the child must sit in the front seat secured by a safety or booster seat.

So in NJ kids under the age of 8 and who weight less than 80 pounds must be in approved child seat or booster seat and should be in the rear seat if possible. Once they reach the age of 8 and are more than 80 pounds should still ride in a rear seat and use a seat belt. If there is no rear seat the child can seat in the front seat but must be properly belted in. Failure to comply with this NJ seat belt law could mean a fine of around $55 plus court costs from what we have read.

The NJ handbook, as well as the NHTSA guidelines, states that children of any age are safest when they are belted properly in the backseat of a vehicle, especially when the vehicle is equipped with a passenger-side air bag. Other safety points are:

  • Always put an infant in a rear-facing infant child safety seat in the back seat of a vehicle with air bags.
  • Always be sure that children 12 years old and younger ride in the backseat of the vehicle.
  • Always make sure everyone is buckled up.

The New Jersey seat belt law requires all front-seat occupants of passenger vehicles operated in New Jersey to wear a seat belt. The motorist (driver) is responsible for all passengers under 18 years of age. Front-seat passengers 18 years of age and over are responsible for themselves.

New Jersey's seat belt law requires the motorist, front-seat passenger and children under 18 years old to be belted (N.J.S.A. 39:3-76.2f). Non-compliance is a primary offense. This means a police officer can stop a motorist solely for a violation of the seat belt law. The law also expands the definition of passenger vehicle to include vans, pickup trucks and utility vehicles. Although rear seat belts are not required by law, passengers should always use them.

It is preferred that whenever possible, child car safety seats be placed in the backseat. However, if a motorist is riding with a new infant and the vehicle does not have a backseat it is recommended that you move the front seat as far back as possible from the dashboard and make sure the child is buckled properly in the appropriate restraint for his/her height and weight. Never place rear-facing infant safety seats in the front seat of a vehicle with a front passenger-side air bag because if it went off it could severely hurt the child.

Basically New Jersey laws require you to have your child in the back seat in the proper type of infant, child or booster seat through age 8 or when they are 80 pounds unless you are in a car without a rear seat to place your child. National guidelines state that children 12 and under are at the most risk in the front seat and advise parents to keep children in the rear seat whenever possible since it is safer. To understand all of New Jersey's seat belt laws you can read through the statutes pertaining to them, such as the 2 we mentioned here and then contact the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) for more information.


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1 Responses to "How old do you have to be to sit in the front seat?"
  1. utryiuflgk

    How old do you have to be to sit in the front seat in Vermont?

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