In laymen’s terms… children have to be in a car seat until age 8 or 65 pounds which ever comes first. Then they must be seat belted in the vehicle. No child under age 12 is allowed to be in the front seat when air bags are present with a few exceptions. Here is the exact text of the law:
§ 4803. Child restraint in motor vehicles.
• (a) Every person shall be responsible, when transporting a child through the age of 7 and up to and including the weight of 65 pounds in a motor vehicle operated on the roadways, streets or highways of this State, for providing protection of the child by properly securing the child in all seating positions, according to manufacturer's instruction, in a child safety seat or booster seat meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards, and that is appropriate for the child's weight and height. Every child who has either attained the age of 8 or a weight in excess of 65 pounds and has not yet attained the age of 16 shall, in all seating positions, wear a properly secured seatbelt while in a motor vehicle operated on the roadways, streets or highways of this State. The duty imposed by this subsection shall not apply to any operator or passenger of a motor bus, limousine or taxicab as defined in § 1801 of Title 2.
• (b)(1) No child who is 65 inches or less in height and who is under 12 years of age shall occupy the front passenger seat of any vehicle equipped with a passenger-side airbag that has not been deliberately rendered inoperable in conformity with federal law. This subsection shall not apply to vehicles equipped with a passenger-side airbag specifically designed or modified by the vehicle's manufacturer for use by children and small adults.
• (2) It shall not be a violation of this section for a child 65 inches or less in height and under 12 years of age to occupy the front passenger seat of a vehicle equipped with a passenger-side airbag that has not been deliberately rendered inoperable in conformity with federal law if such vehicle does not have a rear passenger seat or if all rear passenger seats are occupied by other children 65 inches or less in height and under 12 years of age. A violation of this subsection shall be considered a secondary offense, and no motor vehicle shall be stopped by a police officer solely for failure to comply with this subsection.
• (c) A violation of this section shall be an offense punishable by a fine of $25 for each violation. The failure to provide a child restraint system or seat belt for more than 1 child in the same vehicle at the same time, as required by this section, shall not be treated as a separate offense.
What Parents Can do:
• Buckle up your child every trip, every time
• Have your car seat inspected by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician – OHS has one in each county who works three days a week at the DMV to do just this for fee.
• Visit the OHS website for recommendations on what type of car seat is right for your child at which age/weight and get contact information for our Fitting Stations to have your car seat inspected for correct fit for free. The website page is http://www.ohs.delaware.gov/information/cps.shtml