Child Passenger Safety

All states and territories require child safety seats for infants and children fitting specific criteria, but requirements vary based on age, weight and height. Often, this happens in three stages: infants use rear-facing infant seats; toddlers use forward-facing child safety seats; and older children use booster seats.

Many laws require all children to ride in the rear seat whenever possible, and most states permit children over a particular age, height or weight to use an adult safety belt.

First offense fines for not complying with a state's child passenger safety laws vary from $10 to $500. Some states also use driver's license points as an additional penalty for noncompliance.

  • 48 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico require booster seats or other appropriate devices for children who have outgrown their child safety seats but are still too small to use an adult seat belt safely.
    • The only states lacking booster seat laws are Florida and South Dakota.
  • 8 states (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina) require children younger than two be in a rear-facing child seat.
  • 5 states (California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York) have seat belt requirements for school buses. Texas requires them on buses purchased after September 2010.

NOTE: GHSA does not compile any additional data on child passenger safety laws other than what is presented here. For more information, consult the appropriate State Highway Safety Office.

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and State Highway Safety Offices.

  • Alabama

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 1 yrs or under 20 lbs in rear-facing infant seat

    1-4 yrs or 20-40 lbs in forward-facing child safety seat

    5 yrs (but not yet 6) in booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    6-14 years

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $25 + points

  • Alaska

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 1 yrs or under 20 lbs in rear-facing infant seat

    1-4 yrs and over 20 lbs in child safety seat

    4-7 and 20-64 lbs (or under 57" tall) in booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    Over 4 yrs and 65 lbs or over (or 57" or taller)

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50 + points

  • American Samoa

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 4 yrs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    4 yrs or older

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    No data

  • Arizona

    Child Restraint Required

    4 yrs or under

    5-7 yrs and under 57" tall

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    5-7 yrs and over 57" tall

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50

  • Arkansas

    Child Restraint Required

    5 yrs and under and under 60 lbs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    6-14 yrs or 60 lbs and over

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $100

  • California

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 yrs and under 40 lbs and under 40" tall in rear-facing infant seat

    Under 8 yrs and under 57" tall in rear seat if available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs or 57" and taller

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $100

  • Colorado

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 1 yrs and under 20 lbs in rear-facing infant seat in rear seat if available

    1-3 yrs and 20-40 lbs in child safety seat

    4-7 yrs in booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $82

  • Connecticut

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 yrs or under 30 lbs in rear-facing restraint system

    2-4 yrs or 30-40 lbs in child restraint system

    5-7 yrs or 40-60 lbs in child restraint or booster seat

    Booster seats only with a lap and shoulder belt

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 years and 60 lbs or over

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $92

  • Delaware

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 66 lbs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs or 66 lbs and over

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $25

  • District of Columbia

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $75 + points

  • Florida

    Child Restraint Required

    5 yrs or under

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    Not permissible

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $60 + points

  • Georgia

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 8 yrs and 57" or shorter in rear seat if available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    Over 57" tall

    40 lbs or over in rear seat can use lap belt if lap/shoulder belt unavailable

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50 + points

  • Guam

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 4 yrs in child safety seat

    4-11 yrs and under 4'9" tall in child restraint or booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    12 and older (or 4'9" or taller)

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $100

  • Hawaii

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 4 yrs in child safety seat

    4-7 yrs in booster seat or child restraint

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    4-7 yrs and over 4'9" tall

    4-7 yrs and 40 lbs or over in rear seat can use lap belt if lap/shoulder bet unavailable

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $100

  • Idaho

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 7 yrs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    Not permissible

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $79

  • Illinois

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 8 yrs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs

    Over 40 lbs in rear seat if only lap belt available

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $75 ($200 for subsequent offenses)

  • Indiana

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs

    40 lbs or over can use lap belt if lap/shoulder belt unavailable

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $25 + points

  • Iowa

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 1 yrs and under 20 lbs in rear-facing child seat

    1-5 yrs in child restraint

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    6-17 yrs

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $195 (including court costs)

  • Kansas

    Child Restraint Required

    3 yrs or under in child restraint

    4-7 yrs and under 80 lbs or under 57" tall in child restraint or booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-13 yrs

    4-7 yrs and over 80 lbs or taller than 57"

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $60

  • Kentucky

    Child Restraint Required

    40" or shorter in child restraint

    7 yrs or under and between 40" and 57" tall in booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    Taller than 57"

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50 child restraint; $30 booster seat

  • Louisiana

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 1 yrs or under 20 lbs in rear-facing child safety seat

    1-3 yrs or 20-39 lbs in forward-facing child safety seat

    4-5 yrs or 40-60 lbs in booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    6-12 yrs or over 60 lbs

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $100

  • Maine

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 40 lbs in child safety seat

    40-80 lbs and under 8 yrs in safety system that elevates child so that adult safety belt fits properly

    11 yrs and under and under 100 lbs in rear seat if available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-17 yrs or under 18 yrs and over 4'9" tall

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50 (maximum $250 for subsequent offenses)

  • Maryland

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 8 yrs and under 57" tall

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs or 57" or taller

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50

  • Massachusetts

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 57" tall

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-12 yrs or 57" or taller

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $25

  • Michigan

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 57" tall

    Under 4 yrs in rear seat if available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs or 57" or taller

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $10 for under 4 yrs

    $25 for 4-8 yrs and under 4'9" tall

  • Minnesota

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 57" tall

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8 yrs or over or over 57" tall

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50

  • Mississippi

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 4 yrs in child restraint

    4-6 yrs and under 57" tall or under 65 lbs in booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    7 yrs or over or 57" or taller or 65 lbs or over

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $25

  • Missouri

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 4 yrs or under 40 lbs in child safety seat

    4-7 yrs and 40-80 lbs and 4'9" or shorter in child safety seat or booster seat

    4 yrs or over and 80 lbs or over or taller than 4'9" in booster seat or safety belt

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-16 yrs

    4 yrs and over and over 80 lbs or over 4'9" tall

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50

    $10 for over 80 lbs or over 4'9" tall

  • Montana

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 6 yrs and under 60 lbs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    Not permissible

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $100

  • Nebraska

    Child Restraint Required

    5 yrs or under

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    6-17 yrs

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $25 + points

  • Nevada

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 6 yrs and under 60 lbs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    Not permissible

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $500 (minimum $100)

  • New Hampshire

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 7 yrs and 57" or shorter

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    7-17 yrs (or under 7 yrs and 57" or taller)

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50

  • New Jersey

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 yrs and under 30 lbs in rear-facing infant seat

    Under 4 yrs and under 40 lbs in child safety seat

    Under 8 yrs and shorter than 57" in rear seat if available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    Not permissible

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $75

  • New Mexico

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 1 yrs in rear-facing infant seat in rear seat if available

    1-4 yrs or under 40 lbs in child safety seat

    5-6 yrs or under 60 lbs in booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    7-17 yrs

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $25

  • New York

    Child Restraint Required

    3 yrs or under unless over 40 lbs and no lap/shoulder belt available

    4-7 yrs unless no lap/shoulder belt available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs or over 40 lbs

    4-7 yrs if no lap/shoulder belt available

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $100 + points

  • North Carolina

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 80 lbs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs or 40-80 lbs in seats without shoulder belts

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $25 + $188 court costs + points

  • North Dakota

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 57" tall or under 80 lbs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-17 yrs

    7 yrs or under and 57" or taller

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $25 + 1 point

  • Northern Mariana Islands

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 5 yrs or under 70 lbs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    Over 5 yrs or over 70 lbs

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50-$250

  • Ohio

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 4 yrs or under 40 lbs in child safety seat

    4-7 yrs and over 40 lbs and under 4'9" tall in booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-14 yrs

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $75

  • Oklahoma

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 yrs (or until outgrows the top height or weight recommendations) in rear-facing child restraint

    Under 4 yrs in child restraint

    4-7 yrs and shorter than 4'9" in a child restraint or booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8 yrs or over or 4'9" or taller

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50 (up to $207.90 with court costs)

  • Oregon

    Child Restraint Required

    Child restraint required for 7 or younger and 40 lbs or less

    Rear-facing until 2 yrs

    Booster seat for children over 40 lbs but under 8 yrs or under 4'9" tall

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs or over 4'9" tall

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $110

  • Pennsylvania

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 yrs (or until outgrows the top height or weight recommendations) in rear-facing child restraint

    7 yrs or under in child restraint or booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    Not permissible

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $75

  • Puerto Rico

    Child Restraint Required

    4 yrs or under in child safety seat

    4-8 yrs or under 57" tall in booster seat

    Under 12 yrs in rear seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    9 yrs or under or 57" or taller

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $100

  • Rhode Island

    Child Restraint Required

    2 yrs or under and under 30 lbs in rear-facing child safety seat

    7 yrs and under and shorter than 57" and under 80 lbs in child restraint

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    7 yrs or under and 80 lbs or over or 57" or taller

    8-17 yrs

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $85

    $40 for children between 8-17

  • South Carolina

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 yrs in rear-facing infant seat

    2-8 yrs in forward-facing child safety seat or in booster seat secured by lap/shoulder belt (lap belt alone is not permissible)

    7 yrs or under in rear seat if available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8 yrs and at least 57" if child can be properly secured by adult belt.

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $150

  • South Dakota

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 5 yrs and under 40 lbs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    5-17 yrs or 40 lbs or over

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $25

  • Tennessee

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 1 yrs or 20 lbs or under in rear-facing infant seat

    1-3 yrs and over 20 lbs in forward-facing infant seat

    4-8 yrs and under 4'9" in booster seat

    8 yrs or under and under 4'9" in rear seat if available

    Rear seat recommended for 9-12 yrs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    9-15 yrs (or 12 yrs and under and over 4'9")

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50

  • Texas

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 57" tall

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    Not permissible

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $25 minimum; maximum unlisted

  • Utah

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 57" tall

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs or 57" or taller

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $45

  • Vermont

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 1 yrs or under 20 lbs in rear-facing infant seat in rear seat unless front passenger airbag is deactivated

    1-7 yrs and over 20 lbs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-17 yrs and over 20 lbs

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $25

  • Virgin Islands

    Child Restraint Required

    5 yrs or under

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    3 yrs or over

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $25 to $250

  • Virginia

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under

    Children in rear-facing devices must be in a rear seat if available - otherwise, in front only if front passenger airbag is deactivated

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-17 yrs (4-7 yrs with physician's exemption)

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50

  • Washington

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 8 yrs and shorter than 4'9"

    Under 13 in rear seat if practical

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 years or under 8 yrs and 4'9" or taller

    40 lbs or over in position where only lap belt available

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $124 to driver if passenger under 16 yrs

    To passenger if 16 yrs or over

  • West Virginia

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 4'9" tall

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    7 yrs or under and 4'9" or taller

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $20

  • Wisconsin

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 1 yrs or under 20 lbs in rear-facing infant seat

    1-3 yrs and 20-40 lbs in forward-facing child safety seat

    4-7 yrs and 40-80 lbs and under 57" tall in booster seat

    3 yrs or under in rear seat if available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8 yrs or under and over 80 lbs and 57" or taller

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $173.50 if passenger under 4 yrs

    $150.10 if passenger 4-8 yrs

  • Wyoming

    Child Restraint Required

    8 yrs or under in rear seat if available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    Not permissible

    Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

    $50