February 27, 2024

A Guide to Maryland’s Child Passenger Safety Laws

Maryland is dedicated to keeping children safe on the road. To protect little travelers, the state has laws requiring proper child safety seats and seat belts based on age, height and weight. Here is a comprehensive guide to Maryland's child passenger safety laws, with tips to ensure your child is properly restrained.

Maryland's Child Safety Seat Law

Maryland's Child Passenger Safety Law, which went into effect on October 1, 2022, requires that:

Choosing the Right Car Seat

With so many car seats on the market, choosing the appropriate model for your child's age and size can be confusing. Here are some tips:

  • Check the seat's manual for height and weight limits. Compare with your child's current measurements.
  • Test rear-facing infant seats to ensure your child's head is at least 1 inch below the top.
  • Harnessed seats should have harness straps at or above your child’s shoulders.
  • Your child’s ears should not come above the booster seat headrest.
  • Try seats out in your vehicle before buying. Not all fit properly in all cars.
  • You can also get a car seat inspection at a Child Safety Seat Fitting Station to help determine if your seat is right for your child. KISS has an inspection locator on their website.

Proper Installation Matters

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 46% of car seats are misused in a way that could reduce their effectiveness. Proper installation is key for maximum safety. Here are some tips:

  • Always read both the vehicle manual and car seat manual before installing. Follow all directions.
  • Use either the seat belt or LATCH system to secure the seat, not both unless specifically allowed. LATCH provides an easier, more consistent install.
  • Make sure the seat is tightly installed and doesn’t move more than 1 inch side-to-side or front-to-back.
  • Register your car seat with the manufacturer to be notified of any recalls.
  • You can also get a free car seat inspection by a Child Passenger Safety Technician to check for proper installation. They can teach you how to install your seat correctly.

Under Maryland law:

Fines and Enforcement

As the driver, you are responsible for ensuring all children under 16 are properly restrained. If your child is unrestrained, you can be fined per violation. Fines escalate for repeat offenses.

Maryland police actively enforce child safety seat laws during scheduled checkpoint operations and year-round during traffic stops. Officers check for seat type, installation, harness fit and placement. They refer offenders to safety seat technicians and programs to avoid finding first-time offenders. But citations are issued when education fails.

Protecting Maryland's Youngest Passengers

Maryland is dedicated to protecting children from traffic injuries and fatalities through proper use of car seats and seat belts. Following the state's child passenger safety laws ensures kids stay safe and parents avoid fines. Take time to choose the right seat for your child's age and size, install it correctly, and properly harness them every trip. If you have questions or need assistance obtaining a safety seat, resources are available. Because all children deserve a safe ride.

Choose Shultz Legal For Your Needs

Stay informed and compliant with Maryland's car seat laws to safeguard your child's safety. Trust Schultz Legal for expert guidance on compliance and understanding of these regulations. 

A car accident lawyer at Schultz Legal can provide invaluable assistance by offering expert guidance on navigating Maryland's car seat laws, ensuring that your child's safety is prioritized and your legal rights are protected in the event of an accident. Contact us today for a free consultation to ensure your family's safety on the road.