Nevada Revised Statute 484B.157 requires child restraint systems for passengers less than six years old and less than 57 inches tall. The car seat must be installed securely and appropriate for the child’s size and weight.
It is recommended that children remain in car seats until they outgrow them – usually around age three – before moving on to booster seats. Drivers cited for failing to properly secure children passengers (NRS 484B.157) face fines or community service.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. When are car seats required in Nevada?
- 2. What kind of car seat should I use?
- 3. When can children travel without child restraint systems?
- 4. What are the penalties for not using a car seat?
- 5. Will I get demerit points for not using a child restraint system?
- 6. How do I fight the charge?
- 7. Can an NRS 484B.157 violation be used against me in a lawsuit?
- 8. When can children wear safety belts like adults?
- 9. Am I entitled to a jury trial?
- 10. When can I get a record seal?
- Additional resources
NRS 484B.157 states that drivers must secure children passengers in an approved child restraint system if they are up to five years old and under 57 inches tall. The term child restraint system comprises car seats, booster seats, and seat belts (safety belts).
NRS 484B.157 also states that children under 2 years old must be in a rear-facing child restraint system in the back seat of the motor vehicle unless
- Special health care needs of the child require the child to ride in the front seat of the motor vehicle and a written statement signed by a physician certifying the requirement is carried in the motor vehicle, and the airbag is deactivated; or
- All back seats in the motor vehicle are in use by other children who are less than 2 years of age, and the airbag is deactivated; or
- The motor vehicle is not equipped with back seats, and the airbag is deactivated.1
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that infants travel in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. Then once the child outgrows the rear-facing car seat manufacturer’s height limits and weight limits, parents can switch to a front-facing car seat.
Parents should switch to a booster seat only when the child outgrows the car seat. And children should not graduate to seat belts until they are big enough to fit into them properly. NHTSA also recommends that the child always be in the rear seat and not the front seat at least until age 12.2
People may only transport children in child seats approved by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT).3
Nevada law does not require children to travel in child safety seats on
- public transportation (including taxis),
- school buses, and
- emergency vehicles.
Another exemption is if a car seat would be harmful or impractical for a particular child because of a physical or medical condition. In these cases, though, the driver would need to keep a signed statement from the child’s physician or advanced practice registered nurse in the vehicle.4
Note that the law is unclear re. ridesharing vehicles such as Uber and Lyft.
Not using a child car seat violates Nevada state law if the child:
- Is under 6 years old, and
- Is under 57 inches tall, and
- Is not big enough for a booster seat.
The misdemeanor penalties for violating NRS 484B.157 get harsher with each successive offense.
NRS 484B.157 offense
Penalties under child seat laws
|First offense|| |
However, the judge will waive these requirements as long as you complete a child restraint system training class within 60 days of the sentencing.
|Second offense|| |
However, the judge will halve these requirements if both:
|Third- or subsequent offense||Driver’s license suspension of 30 to 180 days5|
The most important thing is not to ignore your case if you get cited for failing to use a child restraint system. If you miss court, the judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Once you have a warrant, you risk being thrown into jail even though the underlying car seat charge typically carries minimal penalties.
No. The DMV (Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles) assigns no demerit points because violating NRS 484B.157 is not a moving violation. However, some auto insurance companies may choose to increase premiums.6
Here at Las Vegas Defense Group, we have represented literally thousands of clients charged with traffic offenses such as failing to use a child restraint system. In our experience, three potential defenses that are effective with judges and prosecutors include:
- The police were wrong, and your child was in fact secured by a car seat. The police’s bodycam footage may be sufficient to vindicate you.
- You had a doctor’s note explaining why your child’s condition exempts them from having to be in a child restraint system.
- Your child was too old or too tall to need a child restraint system. Your child’s birth certificate and/or medical records would be useful evidence in these cases.
No. Drivers who break Nevada child restraint system laws are not automatically deemed negligent or reckless in any ensuing lawsuits.7
Example: Marie is driving her 3-year-old daughter when Rod crashes into them. The daughter was not properly secured in her car seat and sustains serious injuries. If Marie sues Rod for the car accident, Rod cannot argue that Marie was negligent for violating NRS 484B.157. It does not matter that the daughter might have escaped injury had she been secured in the car seat.
Children who outgrow booster seats must wear safety belts in vehicles as adults do. This safety belt requirement lasts for the rest of their lives.
Drivers or passengers who fail to wear safety belts as required face a misdemeanor charge. The penalty is a fine of up to $25 or community service. Note that if both the driver and a child passenger(s) are not wearing safety belts, the police officer can issue just one citation for both violations.
Although safety belts are required, Nevada law enforcement officers are not allowed to pull over drivers just because someone is not wearing a safety belt. Instead, the police may issue a safety belt citation only if:
- the vehicle is already stopped, and the police then notice that someone is not wearing a safety belt, and/or
- the driver is being arrested for another (primary) offense.8
Learn more about Nevada seat belt laws (NRS 484D.495). Safety belts typically consist of a shoulder belt and/or a lap belt.
Since failing to use a car seat is only a misdemeanor charge, you cannot get a jury trial in Nevada.9 However, you do have the right to demand a bench trial where the judge (and not a jury) decides the verdict.
If you are convicted of failing to use child restraints in a vehicle, you can petition for a record seal one year after the case closes. Though if the charge gets dismissed (meaning that there is no conviction), then you can petition for a record seal right away.10
For more information related to car seat laws, refer to the following:
- Nevada State Police Office of Traffic Safety: Information on state car seat laws and recent recalls
- Safe Kids Worldwide – Nevada: Overview of Nevada car seat regulations with links to other states’ laws
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Car Seats and Booster Seats: General information on car seats and how to install them correctly
- American Academy of Pediatrics – Car Seat Safety: Discussion of how to safely restrain small children during car rides
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Child Passenger Safety: Get the Facts: Statistics on child deaths due to motor vehicle crashes
- NRS 484B.157; NRS 484D.495. Nevada Assembly Bill 118 (2021).
- NHTSA Recommendations for Children; see also AAP Updates Car Safety Seat Recommendations for Children, American Academy of Pediatrics (September 21, 2018); Occupant Protection / Child Passenger Safety, Department of Public Safety; see also Nevada Department of Transportation. See also Buckle Up, Nevada DMV.
- Nevada Revised Statute 484B.157.
- NRS 484D.495; see Cortes v. State, 260 P.3d 184 (Nev. 2011). Note that the following people are exempted from NRS 484D.495(2) and (3): Drivers or passengers with a doctor’s note certifying that they cannot wear seat belts due to medical/physical reasons; people in vehicles not required under federal law to have seat belts; USPS workers in rural Nevada; people in vehicles who frequently exit the vehicle or delivery property from the vehicle, and the vehicle is stopping often and never exceeds 15 mph between stops; and public transportation passengers (such as in emergency vehicles or school buses but not taxis).
- Baldwin v. New York (1969) 399 U.S. 66.
- NRS 179.245. NRS 179.255.