Child Safety
Texas

How old does a child have to be to ride in a car without car seat in Texas or what is the weight?

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June 12, 2009 9:06PM

"A person commits an offense if the person operates a passenger vehicle, transports a

child who is younger that five years and less than 36 inches in height, and does not

keep the child secured during the operation of the vehicle in a child passenger safety

seat system according to the instructions of the manufacturer of the safety seat system."

Law Summarized

"Children under 5 years old and less than 36 inches tall must ride in a child safety seat. Children more than 36 inches tall and at least 5 years old but younger than 17 years old must be secured by a safety belt."

-Houston, TX child car safety seats manual

Here is the link to the pdf manual:

http://www.houstontx.gov/police/crime_prevention/images/child_car_safety_seats.pdf

They did not give a weight.

Found this updated information on a new law for TX to help answer your question. June 2, 2009

New Booster Seat Law Clarified

There has been some confusion about a new state law that requires all children younger than eight (8) years old, UNLESS taller than 4'9" to be in child passenger safety seat system. ("Child passenger safety seat system" includes traditional car seats with harnesses AND booster seats - both high-back and backless versions.)

The law also requires all safety seats and booster seats to be installed according to the instructions of the manufacturer of the safety seat system.

Because of the changes of the wording in the law (SB61), the following legal interpretation should be applied:

•Once a child reaches eight (8) years old, they are not legally required to be in a child safety seat system.

•If the child is younger than eight years old, BUT they are already 4'9" tall, they are not legally required to be in a child safety seat system.

•If a child is eight years old or older, and not yet 4'9" tall, they are not legally required to be in a child safety seat system.

The law also requires that safety and booster seats be installed and used according to the manufacturer's instructions, including age, height and weight requirements and the placement in the vehicle. (Some manufacturers prohibit using their products on the front seats of vehicles.)

The other part of the law that may cause some confusion are the dates of when the law takes effect and when the enforcement phase begins.

The law will take effect September 1, 2009. Law enforcement officers may only enforce the new changes in the law with written or verbal warnings until June 1, 2010.

However, beginning on June 1, 2010, officers may then arrest or issue a citation/notice to appear to a person committing an offense.

A fine of not more than $25 can be assessed for a first offense and no more than $250 for the second or subsequent offenses.

For a recorded sound bite on this topic, call 512-424-2606

Read about DPS online at www.txdps.state.tx.us

This extra time between the effective date and the written offense date is to allow parents and caregivers ample time to become educated about, and obtain, the required safety seats or booster seats.

--TX Department of Public Safety

Here is the link to the pdf:

http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/director_staff/public_information/pr060209.pdf