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.

  • All 50 states, 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.
  • 23 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands require children younger than two be in a rear-facing child seat.

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

  • Alaska

    Child Restraint Required

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

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

    4-15 and 20-64 lbs (or under 57" tall) in booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    4-7 yrs and 65 lbs or over (or 57" or taller) or 7-15 yrs and under 65 lbs (or below 57")

  • American Samoa

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 4 yrs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    4 yrs or older

  • 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

  • Arkansas

    Child Restraint Required

    5 yrs and under and under 60 lbs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    6-14 yrs or 60 lbs and over

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Delaware

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 66 lbs

    Under 12 yrs and under 65' in rear seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs or 66 lbs and over

  • District of Columbia

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 yrs, under 40 lbs and under 40" in rear-facing child restraint

    4 yrs in child restraint

    4-7 yrs in child restraint or booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs

  • Florida

    Child Restraint Required

    5 yrs or under

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    6 yrs or older

  • 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

  • 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)

  • 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

  • Idaho

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 7 yrs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    7 yrs and older

  • Illinois

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 yrs under 40 lbs and under 40" in rear-facing child restraint

    Under 8 yrs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs

    Over 40 lbs in rear seat if only lap belt available

  • 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

  • Iowa

    Child Restraint Required

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

    1-5 yrs in child restraint or booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    6-17 yrs

  • 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"

  • 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"

  • Louisiana

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 yrs in rear-facing child safety seat

    2-3 yrs and outgrown rear-facing height or weight in forward-facing child safety seat

    4-8 yrs and outgrown forward-facing height or weight in booster seat

    Under 13 in rear seat if possible

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    9-12 yrs or over 60 lbs

  • Maine

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 yrs or until height or weight limit in rear-facing child restraint system

    2 yrs and older and over 55 lbs in child restraint

    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

  • Maryland

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 8 yrs and under 57" tall

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs or 57" or taller

  • Massachusetts

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 57" tall

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-12 yrs or 57" or taller

  • 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

  • Minnesota

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 57" tall

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8 yrs or over or over 57" tall

  • 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

  • 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

  • Montana

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 6 yrs and under 60 lbs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    6 yrs and older and over 60 lbs

  • Nebraska

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 years old until hight or weight limit reached in rear-facing infant seat

    Under 8 years old in child safety seat and in rear seat if available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-17 yrs

  • Nevada

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 6 yrs and under 60 lbs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    6 yrs and older and over 60 lbs

  • 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)

  • New Jersey

    Child Restraint Required

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

    Under 4 yrs and under 40 lbs until height or weight limit reached in child safety seat

    Under 8 yrs and shorter than 57" in forwar-facing child safety seat or booster seat until height or weight limit reached in rear seat if available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8 yrs or older or over 57"

  • 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

  • New York

    Child Restraint Required

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

    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

  • 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

  • North Dakota

    Child Restraint Required

    Younger than 8 years of age and under 57"

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-17 yrs

    Younger than 8 years of age and 57" or taller

  • Northern Mariana Islands

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 5 yrs

    Under 8 lbs or under 54" in booster seat

    Under 5 yrs, under 80 lbs, or under 54" in rear seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    Over 5 yrs or over 80 lbs or over 54"

  • 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

  • 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

  • Oregon

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 yrs in rear-facing child restraint

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

    Under 8 yrs, over 40 lbs or under 4'9" tall in booster seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs or over 4'9" tall

  • Pennsylvania

    Child Restraint Required

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

    2-3 yrs in forward-facing child restraint

    4-7 yrs booster seat 

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-17 yrs

  • 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

  • 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

  • South Carolina

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 yrs or until height or weight limit rearched 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.

  • South Dakota

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 5 yrs and under 40 lbs

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    5-17 yrs or 40 lbs or over

  • 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 over 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")

  • Texas

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 57" tall

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8 yrs or older or over 57"

  • Utah

    Child Restraint Required

    7 yrs or under and under 57" tall

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 yrs or 57" or taller

  • 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

  • Virgin Islands

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 1 yr and under 20 lbs in rear-facing child restraint

    1-5 yrs and under 40 lbs in child restraint

    Under 8 yrs, 40-80 lbs, or under 4'9" in booster seat

    Under 13 in rear seat

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    5-12 yrs

  • Virginia

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 years old in rear-facing infant seat (or until minimum weight requirement reached)

    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)

  • Washington

    Child Restraint Required

    Under 2 yrs or until height or weight limit reached in rear-facing child restraint

    Under 4 yrs or until height or weight limit reached in forward-facing child restraint

    4 yrs or older and 4'9" in booster seat

    Under 12 yrs in rear seat if available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8-15 years or under 16 yrs and 4'9" or taller

    40 lbs or over in position where only lap belt available

  • 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

  • Wisconsin

    Child Restraint Required

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

    1-3 yrs and 20-40 lbs in rear- or forward-facing child restraint or booster seat

    4-7 yrs and 40-80 lbs and under 57" tall in forward-facing child restraint or booster seat

    3 yrs or under and less than 40 lbs in rear seat if available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    8 yrs or under and more than 80 lbs and 57" or taller

  • Wyoming

    Child Restraint Required

    8 yrs or under in rear seat if available

    Adult Safety Belt Permissible

    9 yrs or older