When Can Kids Sit in the Front Seat of a Car in WA State?

When can kids sit in the front seat of a car in Washington state? That is the question my 11-year-old daughter Willow keeps asking me. I have always thought it was when they were at a certain age or a certain height. I thought it was best for me to research what the Washington state law is about it.

Smiling Kids in a Car
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What age does Washington state law say a child has to be to sit in the front seat of a car?

RCW 46.62.687 says:
(f) The driver of a vehicle transporting a child who is under thirteen years old shall transport the child in the back seat positions in the vehicle where it is practical to do so.

What does "practical" mean?

Front Seats in a Car
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If your car has more than two seats, then that would be practical. I would guess that if you are towing a bunch of stuff in your car like furniture or large bags filled with things, then it might NOT be practical, depending on the size of the items. For instance, if you just bought a large table at a furniture store and the table is so large it blocks the back seats, then it would be most practical for some children to sit up front.

Keep in mind, all children under age 2 must sit in the rear seats of a car in a rear-facing car seat.

Child Booster Car Seat
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Kids ages 2 years to 4 years old must remain in a car seat until they reach the suggested height and weight limits by the car seat makers.

"A child may continue to be properly secured in a child restraint system that is rear-facing until the child reaches the weight or height limit of the child restraint system as set by the manufacturer, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics." - RCW 46.62.687, Washington State Law

What is the recommended height and weight limit for kids under age 13?

Children under 4'9" and under 80 lbs are recommended to sit in the seats in the back of the car.

So there you go, the next time your child asks you, "Can I sit in the front seat?" if they are over 80 lbs AND over 4'9" then when you feel that it's practical and safe, you can say, "YES!"

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