According to the NHTSA, car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years old. Colorado’s car seat and safety laws exist to help keep children safer on the road. Car seats and boosters can provide protection for children and infants in the event of an automobile accident. For this reason, it is critical to choose and use the right booster or car seat correctly every time.

At Matlin Injury Law, we believe that safety should always be a top priority for families with children. However, car seat safety laws can vary from state to state. In this guide, we will discuss Colorado’s car seat and child safety laws for automobiles.

About the Car Seat Laws in Colorado

If you need to drive with children in your vehicle, keeping them safe should be a top priority. Seat belts and car seats are there to help keep all of your passengers protected on the road. Knowing and following Colorado’s Child Passenger Safety Laws is an important step toward driving safer.

Whether you live in Colorado or are just visiting, you must follow the state car seat laws. Colorado uses what is known as a graduated car seat system. This system means that the age and weight of a child will determine which type of car seat they must legally use. Babies are usually required to ride in a rear-facing child safety seat. As a child grows, they can then graduate to a booster seat.

What are the current child seat belt and car seat laws in Colorado?

As of 2022, Colorado requires infants to be in a rear-facing car seat in the back of a vehicle. A rear-facing car seat can not be installed in the front passenger seat of a vehicle. Children must remain in a rear-facing car seat until they reach one year of age or 20 pounds in weight.

Young children and toddlers ages one to four must be in a rear or forward-facing car seat. This car seat must be designed to accommodate a child of this age. Simple booster seats are not allowed for children until they reach the age of four. From ages four to eight, children are required to sit in a booster seat wearing a seat belt at all times that a vehicle is moving.
When a child reaches the age of eight, they can sit in a regular seat with a seatbelt. Children are required to wear seat belts from ages eight to 16 at all times.

Overview of Colorado’s Car Seat Laws:

  • Age 1 year and 20 pounds – Rear-facing car seat in the back
  • Ages 1-4 – Rear or forward-facing car seat in the back
  • Ages 4-8 – Booster seat and seat belt in the back
  • Ages 8-16 – Seat belts required, front seat permitted based on weight
  • For non-booster children (over 8 years old), the seat belt must safely reach across the chest, regardless of age.

According to the Colorado DMV, any car seat used in Colorado must be federally approved. Children ages one through four must use an age-appropriate car seat with a harness until they reach the required weight and height to safely use a booster seat. Children using a booster seat must be able to wear the shoulder seat belt correctly. Shoulder belts must easily reach across a child’s chest without going over their neck or chin.

What are the weight requirements for a rear-facing car seat in Colorado?

Infants and children up to 12 months old and weighing up to 20 lbs must use a rear-facing car seat at all times. According to Colorado Revised Statutes § 42-4-236(2)(a)(II), any child that is less than one year old and under 20 pounds will need to be properly restrained in a rear seat.

Infants may never ride in the front row of a vehicle. When a child weighs more than 20 lbs or is over the age of one year, they may be restrained in either a forward-facing or rear-facing car seat at the discretion of parents. This car seat must have a built-in restraint system with federally approved straps.

When can kids ride in the front seat in Colorado?

Many parents wonder how old children must be to ride in the front seat of a car. Can children sit in the front seat in a booster? How tall does a child need to be to sit in the front seat in Colorado? Children can legally sit in the front seat in a booster if they are more than 20 lbs. However, this is not recommended because of airbag safety recommendations.

Most child and passenger safety experts will agree that children should sit in the back seat until they are 13 years old. If you aren’t sure whether your child should ride in the front, it is better to be safe than sorry and have them sit in the back. Children under the age of eight sitting in the front must always use a car seat or booster. Children over the age of eight can sit in the front seat without a booster as long as the seat belt reaches safely across their chest.

What are the forward-facing car seat laws in Colorado?

Colorado’s forward-facing car seat laws require children under the age of one year old and under 20 lbs in weight to be in a rear-facing car seat at all times. After the age of one, rear-facing or forward-facing car seats are acceptable, provided they have adequate safety restraint systems. All car seats must be federally approved until the child is at least four years or older. This is to ensure that the seatbelts it safely with the booster seat.

What are the booster seat laws in Colorado?

Colorado’s booster seat laws apply to children ages eight and under. These booster laws regulate that a child must be in a booster seat or an appropriate car seat until they have reached the age of eight. Children can begin using a booster seat when they are four years old or over 20 lbs.

After the age of eight, children must continue to use a belt-positioning booster until they are tall enough to safely wear the chest seat belt in a vehicle. So, if your child is not tall enough to safely wear a seatbelt regularly, they will need to continue using a booster, even if they are older than eight.

If a child has outgrown their car seat, can they sit in a booster?

If your child has outgrown the manufacturer’s height and weight recommendations for the car seat you are using, they can transition to a belt-positioning booster seat. However, it may be better to find another car seat made for heavier, taller children. The booster positioning seat is there to ensure that a vehicle’s built-in seat belt can safely reach across a child’s chest. Car seats are available for children weighing up to 70 lbs. Car seats tend to be safer than belt-positioning booster seats because they add additional protection in the event of an automobile accident.

Are car seats required when using public transportation?

In Colorado, there are exceptions for car seats if you are riding in a commercial motor vehicle. Children riding public buses or trains are not subjected to standard car seat requirements. Exemptions to Colorado’s car seat laws can be found under Colorado Revised Statute § 42-4-236(3)(c).

Do daycare facilities in Colorado have to follow car seat laws?

Yes, all daycare facilities in Colorado must follow the state’s car seat laws. Vehicles that have 15 seats or less must ensure that child passengers ride in the appropriate car seats. With that in mind, commercial vehicles like school buses that carry more than 16 passengers or more at once are not required to provide car seats for children. Drivers of commercial vehicles are usually required to carry a CDL.

What happens if you violate Colorado’s car seat laws?

If you don’t follow the car seat laws in Colorado, you can get a ticket. Usually, this will be a Class B traffic infraction. The fine for a Class B traffic violation is $65. In Some cases, penalties might be waived if you prove that you have acquired the right car seat by the time you appear in court.

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