Child safety seats, also referred to as car seats, protect children when riding in cars and sometimes save lives in the event of an accident. In South Carolina, as in all other states, state law requires the use of child safety seats for young passengers. The law is based on age and weight. To avoid possible fines, and to keep your child safe on the road, use a child safety seat every time you drive with your child, even for short trips.
1. Children Ages Birth to 1 Year
Children up to age 1, and older children that weigh less than 20 pounds, must use rear-facing child safety seats. You must properly secure such a seat in the backseat of the vehicle. South Carolina law does not require it, but MayoClinic.com recommends securing the car seat in the center of the backseat of the vehicle if you're only securing one car seat in the vehicle for the best protection in the event of an accident.
2. Children Ages 1 to 5
Children ages 1 to 5 and weighing 20 to 39 pounds, must use forward-facing child safety seats. Children ages 1 to 5, weighing between 40 and 80 pounds, must use a belt-positioning booster seat. Children under age of 6 and weighing more than 80 pounds do not need to use a booster seat, provided they can sit up straight with their backs against the seat and their knees bent over the edge of the seat.
3. Children under the Age of 6
Children under the age of 6 must sit in the backseat of a vehicle, unless the vehicle has no backseat or children under the age of 6 are already filling all the backseats. In such cases, children under the age of 6 may sit in the front seat. While South Carolina law does not require it, MayoClinic.com strongly recommends deactivating the airbag in the vehicle if a child must ride in the front seat due to the serious risk of injury by the airbag in the event of an automobile accident.
4. Violations and Penalties
Violators of the child passenger restraint law are subject to a fine of $150, according to 2013 information from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. While you can't be arrested for violating child safety seat laws in South Carolina, the state can issue a warrant for failure to appear in court as per a summons or for failure to pay a fine imposed by a court upon conviction.
5. Exceptions to the Law
Laws regarding child safety seats don’t apply to taxis, school buses, daycare buses, church buses, or commercial vehicles in South Carolina. If a child has a medical problem or physical disability making it impossible or inadvisable to use a child safety seat, these laws do not apply; talk to your child’s healthcare providers about the best way to transport your child if standard child safety seats are unsuitable for some reason.