Car Seat Laws By State

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While riding a car, the safety of the driver and the passengers is supposed to be the top priority. You would need to use car seats for toddlers and even younger children. But the requirements set by the laws are different from one state to another.

I have reviewed various car seat laws by state and will be referencing them here. This is because every state has defined its exceptions and restrictions regarding car seat rules.

However, there are quite a few cases where the laws overlap from state to state. If you are looking for a more detailed elaboration on the car seat law for any single state, you may check out my other articles.

In this article, I have given the most important information you need to know for every state.

Do All 50 States In The USA Require Child Safety Seats In Automobiles?

As it stands, all 50 states in the United States currently have some form of legal enforcement for using child safety seats in vehicles.

The requirements for these laws differ from one state to another. Most states keep it safe and have children up to eight be safely harnessed in a car seat.

However, many other factors come into play when deciding which category your child might be, specific to whichever state you are in.

Whether you are someone who already lives in America or you are someone who is planning on visiting, you need to know about the laws for car seats if you have children under the age of nine.

This is because some states have actually implemented laws requiring you to have a car seat even if you are riding an uber with your child.

What Are The Laws Around Child Car Seats?

So, generally speaking, any child under the threshold age for that state will be required to be secured into a car seat.

There are three main types of car seats that you will be choosing from when determining which one to install into your car.

These are the rear-facing, forward-facing (harnessed), and booster seats. You will make the selection based on which category your child comes in.

This category will be decided on a variety of factors. The most important ones are your child’s age, weight, and height.

The state’s governing body decides these; based on these, you will be deciding which type of car seat you will install in your vehicle.

Now, these factors are the requirements that vary between states and hence, the topic of the conversation for this article. Do note that failure to comply with this law can result in a fine of up to $500.

Car Booster Seat Guidelines

Booster seats are the final stage of car seats you will need for your child before they grow out of them.

The main difference between a booster seat and the other two is that the booster seat uses the car’s seat belt as the harness instead of a dedicated harness in the other two types of car seats.

There are quite a few different booster seats that you can choose from when looking for one.

  1. Firstly, there are the high-back booster seats. These are designed with different heights allowing for a good fit with the seat belt and providing a headrest for the child.
  2. On the other hand, the backless booster seats only provide for a seat, allowing the child to be high enough for the seat belt to fit.
  3. Convertible ones can be transformed from a front-facing car seat to a high-back booster seat.
  4. And lastly, all-in-one seats can be converted between all three types.

Child Car Seat Regulations Chart In The United States

This is one of the most important sections of the article. I am going to discuss everything about the car seat laws in the below table.

State: Rear Facing Car Seat (Age/Weight): Forward Facing Car Seat (Age/Weight): Booster Car Seat (Age/Height/Weight):
Alabama 2 Years Old Max/20 Pounds Max 5 Years Old Minimum/40 Pounds Max 6 Years At Least/4’ 9”/40 Pounds Minimum
Alaska Under 1 Years Old/More Than 20 Pounds Under 5 Years Old/More Than 20 Pounds Between 4 & 8 Years Old/4’ 9”/65 Pounds Max
Arizona Under 2 Years Old/40 Pounds Max Between 2 & 7 Years Old/40 Pounds Minimum Between 4 & 12 Years Old/4’ 9”/Depends On Seat Capacity
Arkansas Under 4 Years Old/Under 20 Pounds 4 Years Old Minimum/40 Pounds Minimum Between 7 & 9 Years Old/4’ 9”/60 Pounds Minimum
California Under 2 Years Old/Under 40 Pounds Between 2 & 4 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity Between 5 & 8 Years Old/Between 4 Feet 8 Inches & 5 Feet/6 Depends On Seat Capacity
Colorado Under 2 Years Old/Under 20 Pounds 3 Years Old And Above/Above 20 Pounds Between 8 & 15 Years Old/4’ 9”/40 Pounds Minimum
Connecticut 2 Years Old/Under 30 Pounds Under 5 Years Old/Between 20 & 65 Pounds Between 5 & 7 Years Old/4’ 9”/40 Pounds Minimum
Delaware Under 4 Years Old/Less Than 40 Pounds Less Than 7 Years Old/Between 20 & 40 Pounds Less Than 8 Years Old/4’ 7”/65 Pounds Maximum
Florida Between 1 & 3 Years old/Under 40 Pounds Above 3 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity Above 3 Years Old/4’ 9”/40 Pounds Maximum
Georgia Under 4 Years Old/Less Than 20 Pounds 1 Years Old And Above/Between 20 & 40 Pounds 4 Years Old And Above/4’ 9”/40 Pounds Minimum
Hawaii Under 4 Years Old/N/A Between 2 and 5 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity Between 4 & 7 Years Old/4’ 9”/40 Pounds Maximum
Idaho Under 2 Years Old/ 40 Pounds Max Below 6 Years Old/Between 40 & 65 Pounds Under 7 Years Old/4’ 9”/40 Pounds Minimum
Illinois Under 2 Years Old/Under 40 Pounds Between 4 & 8 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity Between 8 & 12 Years Old/4’ 9”/Depends On Seat Capacity
Indiana Under 2 Years Old/Under 20 Pounds Above 1 Years Old/Above 20 Pounds 8 Years Old Max/N/A/Above 30 Pounds
Iowa Between 1 & 4 Years Old/Under 40 Pounds Above 6 Years Old/Over 40 Pounds Under 13 Years Old/4’ 9”/40 Pounds Minimum
Kansas Between 1 & 3 Years Old/Under 20 Pounds Under 4 Years Old/Under 40 Pounds Above 4 Years Old/4’ 9”/40 Pounds Maximum
Kentucky Under 2 Years Old/Under 40 Pounds Above 1 Years Old/22 Pounds Minimum Above 4 Years Old/4’ 9”/20 Pounds Minimum
Louisiana Under 1 Years Old/Under 20 Pounds Under 8 Years Old/Between 22 & 40 Pounds Above 4 Years Old/4’ 9”/40 Pounds Minimum
Maine Under 2 Years Old/Under 40 Pounds Under 8 Years Old/Between 40 & 79 Pounds Between 8 & 12 Years Old/4’ 9”/80 Pounds Minimum
Maryland Under 2 Years Old/Under 40 Pounds Under 4 Years Old/Above 40 Pounds Above 7 Years Old/4’ 9”/Depends On Seat Capacity
Massachusetts Between 1 & 3 Years Old /Under 22 Pounds Above 4 Years Old/40 Pounds Minimum Above 7 Years Old/4’ 9”/Depends On Seat Capacity
Michigan 3 Years Old Max/Under 20 Pounds Below 6 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity Between 8 & 12 Years Old/4’ 8”/Depends On Seat Capacity
Minnesota Under 2 Years Old/Under 20 Pounds Above 2 Years Old/Above 20 Pounds 6 Years Old Above/4’ 9”/Above 40 Pounds
Mississippi Under 3 Years Old/30 Pounds Max Above 3 Years Old/Above 40 Pounds Between 5 & 7 Years Old/4’ 9”/Above 40 Pounds
Missouri 4 Years Old Max/Under 30 Pounds Above 4 Years Old/Above 40 Pounds Between 7 & 9 Years Old/4’ 9”/Above 40 Pounds
Montana 4 Years Old Max/Between 20 & 40 Pounds Above 4 Years Old/Between 40 a& 80 Pounds Between 7 & 9 Years Old/4’ 9”/Above 80 Pounds
Nebraska 2 Years Old Max/Depends On Seat Capacity Above 4 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity Between 8 & 18 Years Old/4’ 9”/Above 80 Pounds
Nevada 4 Years Old Max/Depends On Seat Capacity Between 4 & 7 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity Between 7 & 12 Years Old/N/A/N/A
New Hampshire 4 Years Old Max/Under 40 Pounds Between 4 & 6 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity Between 7 & 10 Years Old/4’ 9”/Depends On Seat Capacity
New Jersey 4 Years Old Max/Under 30 Pounds Between 4 & 6 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity Between 7 & 10 Years Old/4’ 9”/Depends On Seat Capacity
New Mexico 4 Years Old Max/Under 35 Pounds 4 Years Old Above/35 Pounds Above 7 Years Old Above/4’ 9”/Under 80 Pounds
New York 2 Years Old Max/Under 40 Pounds 2 Years Old Above/N/A 4 Years Old Above/5’/N/A
North Carolina 4 Years Old Max/Under 35 Pounds 4 Years Old Above/35 Pounds Above Between 8 & 10 Years Old/4’ 9”/Under 80 Pounds
North Dakota 2 Years Old Max/20 Pounds Minimum Between 2 & 5 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity 6 Years Old Above/4’ 9”/Under 80 Pounds
Ohio Under 2 Years Old/Under 40 Pounds Under 4 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity 4 Years Old Above/4’ 10”/Depends On Seat Capacity
Oklahoma Under 2 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity 4 Years Old Above/Depends On Seat Capacity 6 Years Old Above/4’ 9”/Depends On Seat Capacity
Oregon Between 2 & 4 Years Old/30 Pounds Minimum 4 Years Old Above/Between 30 & 40 Pounds 7 Years Old Above/4’ 9”/Depends On Seat Capacity
Pennsylvania Under 2 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity 4 Years Old Above/Depends On Seat Capacity 8 Years Old Above/N/A/Depends On Seat Capacity
Rhode Island 2 Years Old Above/Under 42 Pounds 3 Years Old Above/Under 40 Pounds 8 Years Old Above/4’ 11”/Between 40 & 65 Pounds
South Carolina 2 Years Old Above/Depends On Seat Capacity 3 Years Old Above/Depends On Seat Capacity 4 Years Old Above/N/A/40 Pounds Minimum
South Dakota Under 3 Years Old/35 Pounds Max 3 Years Old Above/40 Pounds Max Between 8 & 12 Years Old/4’ 9”/40 Pounds Minimum
Tennessee Under 2 Years Old/Under 20 Pounds 2 Years Old Above/20 Pounds Above Below 8 Years Old/4’ 9”/Depends On Seat Capacity
Texas Between 1 & 3 Years Old/Between 20 & 40 Pounds Under 5 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity 5 Years Old Above/4’ 9”/Depends On Seat Capacity
Utah Under 2 Years Old/Between 20 & 35 Pounds Between 2 & 5 Years Old/65 Pounds Max 5 Years Old Above/4’ 9”/65 Pounds Max
Vermont Between 3 & 4 Years Old/35 Pounds Max 6 Years Old Max/40 Pounds Max Between 8 & 9 Years Old/4’ 9”/80 Pounds Max
Virginia Under 3 Years Old/20 Pounds Max 3 Years Old Above/35 Pounds Max Between 7 & 9 Years Old/4’ 9”/Between 40 & 80 Pounds
Washington Under 2 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity Between 2 & 4 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity Between 4 & 8 Years Old/4’ 9”/Depends On Seat Capacity
West Virginia Years Old Max/Under 20 Pounds 3 Years Old Above/20 Pounds Above 4 Years Old Minimum/4’ 9”/Depends On Seat Capacity
Wisconsin Under 1 Years Old/Under 20 Pounds Between 3 & 4 Years Old/Depends On Seat Capacity Between 8 & 10 Years Old/4’ 9”/80 Pounds Above
Wyoming Under 2 Years Old/Under 35 Pounds 4 Years Old Above/40 Pounds Above Between 7 & 9 Years Old/4’ 9”/Between 40 & 80 Pounds

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Which State Has The Strictest Car Seat Laws?

While it is difficult to say, it should be clear that any state with fixed ages for car seats is incredibly strict. While many states operate this way, states like Ohio, Texas & North Dakota are better known.

Q2. What Is The Average Age To Stop Using A Booster Seat?

The average age for shifting to a normal car seat is anywhere between 6 to 9 years. This has been calculated after considering data from the table above, which has covered all 50.

Q3. Are Car Seat Laws Federal Or State?

It is evident from this article that car seat laws are governed by the state rather than them being implemented federally. You should conduct proper research before buying a seat for your child.

Q4. How Much Is A Ticket for A Child Without A Car Seat?

The fine can range anywhere from $25 to $500. A parent may also be charged with parental negligence, which no parent wants on their record.

Conclusion

I hope you got all the information you were looking for in this summarized article on car seat laws by state. While these laws vary slightly from state to state, they all have one thing in common: ensuring your child’s protection.

As a parent, it is your responsibility to follow these laws to prevent getting into trouble with the authorities and ensure that your child will remain safe and comfortable when traveling on the road.