Seat Belts

Seat belt laws are divided into two categories: primary and secondary. Primary seat belt laws allow law enforcement officers to ticket a driver or passenger for not wearing a seat belt, without any other traffic offense taking place. Secondary seat belt laws state that law enforcement officers may issue a ticket for not wearing a seat belt only when there is another citable traffic infraction.

  • 34 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have primary seat belt laws for front seat occupants.
  • 15 states have secondary laws for adult front seat occupants.
  • 40 states, D.C., and 2 territories have laws enforcing rear seat belt use. Of these:
    • 17 states, D.C. and 2 territories have primary enforcement for all occupants.
    • 5 states have primary enforcement for youth.
    • 11 states include rear seats as secondary enforcement. Three of these are states with primary seat belt laws for front seat occupants. Six are states with secondary laws for adult front seat occupants.
  • 10 states do not have laws enforcing rear seat belt use.
    • Of states with primary front seat belt use laws, 11 states and the Virgin Islands do not include rear seats
    • Of states with secondary front seat belt use laws, 9 states do not include rear seats.
  • New Hampshire has enacted neither a primary nor a secondary seat belt law for adults in any seat, although the state does have a primary child passenger safety law that covers all drivers and passengers under 18.

belts
Law Chart

Specific laws vary greatly from state to state, depending on the age of the rider and in what seat he or she is sitting. This page covers seat belt laws for adults and young adults only. For requirements for infants, toddlers, and children, see GHSA's Child Passenger Safety Laws.

A PDF chart of state seat belt laws is available for download here.

NOTE: GHSA does not compile any additional data on adult seat belt 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.

Laws last reviewed by SHSOs in March 2023.

Short Term Description
Seat belt laws are divided into two categories: primary and secondary. Specific laws vary greatly from state to state, depending on the age of the rider and in which seat he or she is sitting.
New Hampshire
Type of Law

New Hampshire has enacted neither a primary nor a secondary seat belt law for adults, although the state does have a primary child passenger safety law that covers all drivers and passengers under 18.

New Hampshire
Who is Covered?

n/a

New Hampshire
In What Seat?

n/a

Wyoming
Type of Law

Secondary

Wyoming
Who is Covered?

9 and over

Wyoming
In What Seat?

All

Virginia
Type of Law

Secondary; Primary for occupants under 18

Virginia
Who is Covered?

All drivers; passengers 18 and over

Virginia
In What Seat?

Front Under 18: All (primary enforcement)

Vermont
Type of Law

Secondary; Primary for occupants under 18

Vermont
Who is Covered?

18 and over

Vermont
In What Seat?

All

South Dakota
Type of Law

Secondary

South Dakota
Who is Covered?

18 and over

South Dakota
In What Seat?

Front

Pennsylvania
In What Seat?

8-17 yrs: All (primary enforcement)

Pennsylvania
Type of Law

Secondary; Primary for occupants ages 8-17

Pennsylvania
Who is Covered?

8 and over

Ohio
Type of Law

Secondary

Ohio
Who is Covered?

8 and over

Ohio
In What Seat?

8-14 yrs: All (primary enforcement) 15 and over: Front

North Dakota
Type of Law

Secondary; Primary for occupants under 18

North Dakota
Who is Covered?

18 and over

North Dakota
In What Seat?

18 and over: Front Under 18: All

Nevada
Type of Law

Secondary

Nevada
Who is Covered?

6 and over

Nevada
In What Seat?

All

Nebraska
Type of Law

Secondary

Nebraska
Who is Covered?

18 and over

Nebraska
In What Seat?

Front

Montana
Who is Covered?

6 and over

Montana
In What Seat?

All

Montana
Type of Law

Secondary

Missouri
Type of Law

Secondary; Primary for riders ages 8 through 15

Missouri
Who is Covered?

8 and over

Missouri
In What Seat?

8-15 yrs: All (primary enforcement) 16 and over: Front

Massachusetts
Type of Law

Secondary

Massachusetts
Who is Covered?

13 and over

Massachusetts
In What Seat?

All

Idaho
Type of Law

Secondary

Idaho
Who is Covered?

7 and over (primary law for drivers under 18)

Idaho
In What Seat?

All

Colorado
Type of Law

Secondary

Colorado
Who is Covered?

16 and over (primary law for under 18)

Colorado
In What Seat?

Front

Arizona
Type of Law

Secondary

Arizona
Who is Covered?

8 and over

Arizona
In What Seat?

8-15 yrs: All 8 and over: Front

Wisconsin
Type of Law

Primary

Wisconsin
Who is Covered?

8 and over

Wisconsin
In What Seat?

All

West Virginia
Type of Law

Primary

West Virginia
Who is Covered?

8 and over

West Virginia
In What Seat?

8-17 yrs: Front

Washington
Type of Law

Primary

Washington
Who is Covered?

Over 16 or over 4'9"

Washington
In What Seat?

All

Virgin Islands
Type of Law

Primary

Virgin Islands
Who is Covered?

All riders

Virgin Islands
In What Seat?

Front

Utah
Type of Law

Primary

Utah
Who is Covered?

Drivers and passengers over 16

Utah
In What Seat?

All

Texas
In What Seat?

All

Texas
Type of Law

Primary

Texas
Who is Covered?

7 and under who are over 57" 8 and over

Tennessee
Type of Law

Primary

Tennessee
Who is Covered?

16 and over

Tennessee
In What Seat?

Front

South Carolina
Type of Law

Primary

South Carolina
Who is Covered?

8 and over

South Carolina
In What Seat?

All

Rhode Island
Type of Law

Primary

Rhode Island
Who is Covered?

8 and over

Rhode Island
In What Seat?

All

Puerto Rico
Type of Law

Primary

Puerto Rico
Who is Covered?

9 and over or 57" and over

Puerto Rico
In What Seat?

Data not available

Oregon
Who is Covered?

All riders

Oregon
In What Seat?

All

Oregon
Type of Law

Primary

Oklahoma
Type of Law

Primary

Oklahoma
Who is Covered?

13 and over

Oklahoma
In What Seat?

Front

Northern Mariana Islands
Type of Law

Primary

Northern Mariana Islands
Who is Covered?

Over 6

Northern Mariana Islands
In What Seat?

All

North Carolina
Type of Law

Primary; Secondary for rear seat occupants

North Carolina
Who is Covered?

16 and over

North Carolina
In What Seat?

All

New York
Type of Law

Primary

New York
Who is Covered?

All riders

New York
In What Seat?

All

New Mexico
Type of Law

Primary

New Mexico
Who is Covered?

18 and over

New Mexico
In What Seat?

All

New Jersey
Type of Law

Primary; Secondary for rear seat occupants

New Jersey
Who is Covered?

7 and under and more than 57 inches tall 8 and over

New Jersey
In What Seat?

All

Mississippi
Type of Law

Primary

Mississippi
Who is Covered?

7 and over

Mississippi
In What Seat?

All

Minnesota
Type of Law

Primary

Minnesota
Who is Covered?

7 and younger and over 57 inches 8 and over

Minnesota
In What Seat?

All

Michigan
Type of Law

Primary

Michigan
Who is Covered?

16 and over

Michigan
In What Seat?

Front

Maryland
Type of Law

Primary; Secondary for rear seat occupants

Maryland
Who is Covered?

16 and over

Maryland
In What Seat?

Under 16 yrs: All 16 yrs and over: Front (secondary enforcement in rear seat)

Maine
In What Seat?

All

Maine
Type of Law

Primary

Maine
Who is Covered?

All riders

Louisiana
Type of Law

Primary

Louisiana
Who is Covered?

13 and over

Louisiana
In What Seat?

All

Kentucky
Type of Law

Primary

Kentucky
Who is Covered?

7 and under and more than 57 inches 8 and over

Kentucky
In What Seat?

All

Kansas
Type of Law

Primary

Kansas
Who is Covered?

14 and over

Kansas
In What Seat?

14-17 yrs: All 18 and over: Front (other seating positions are secondary enforcement)

Iowa
Type of Law

Primary

Iowa
Who is Covered?

All riders

Iowa
In What Seat?

Front

Indiana
Who is Covered?

16 and over

Indiana
In What Seat?

All

Indiana
Type of Law

Primary

Illinois
Type of Law

Primary

Illinois
Who is Covered?

16 and over

Illinois
In What Seat?

All

Hawaii
Type of Law

Primary

Hawaii
Who is Covered?

8 and over

Hawaii
In What Seat?

All

Guam
Type of Law

Primary

Guam
Who is Covered?

All riders

Guam
In What Seat?

All

Georgia
Type of Law

Primary

Georgia
Who is Covered?

8 and older

Georgia
In What Seat?

8-17 yrs: All 18 and over: Front

Florida
Type of Law

Primary

Florida
Who is Covered?

6 and over

Florida
In What Seat?

6-17 yrs: All 6 and over: Front

District of Columbia
Type of Law

Primary

District of Columbia
Who is Covered?

16 and over

District of Columbia
In What Seat?

All

Delaware
Type of Law

Primary (civil penalty)

Delaware
Who is Covered?

16 and over

Delaware
In What Seat?

All

Connecticut
Type of Law

Primary

Connecticut
Who is Covered?

8 and over

Connecticut
In What Seat?

All

California
Type of Law

Primary

California
Who is Covered?

16 and over

California
In What Seat?

All

Arkansas
Type of Law

Primary

Arkansas
Who is Covered?

15 and over

Arkansas
In What Seat?

Front

Alaska
In What Seat?

All

Alaska
Type of Law

Primary

Alaska
Who is Covered?

16 and over

Alabama
Type of Law

Primary

Alabama
Who is Covered?

15 and over

Alabama
In What Seat?

All

GHSA Praises Long-Awaited Proposal to Require Front and Rear Seat Belt Warnings for Vehicle Drivers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced a new proposed rule to require front and rear seat belt warning systems for drivers in most new vehicles manufactured in the United States. This proposed rulemaking, which was first announced at a GHSA Annual Meeting more than a decade ago, is a long overdue expansion of lifesaving vehicle technology that will help supplement ongoing efforts by State Highway Safety Offices and the traffic safety community to ensure everyone in every vehicle is buckled up.

Small Decrease in 2022 Traffic Deaths Sustains Pandemic-Fueled Surge in Roadway Fatalities as NHTSA Still Lacks a Confirmed Administrator

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that an estimated 42,795 people died in traffic crashes in the United States in 2022 – down 0.3% from the year before. That’s an average of 117 people dying on our roads every single day last year.

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