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.

  • 49 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 is South Dakota.
  • 11 states (California, Connecticut, Nebraska [eff. 01/01/2019], New Jersey, New York [eff. 11/01/2019], Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia [eff. 07/01/2019]) 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.

Short Term Description
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.

Georgia Takes Action on Handheld Cell Phone Use While Driving

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2018

CONTACT: Madison Forker, mforker@ghsa.org
202-789-0942 x120

States Strengthen Traffic Safety Laws in 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday afternoon, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed H.B. 673 into law, making the state the 16th (along with D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) to ban handheld wireless device phone use behind the wheel.

Child Passenger Safety Laws: Wisconsin

Child Restraint Required

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

1-3 yrs or less than 40 lbs in forward-facing child safety seat

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

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

Adult Safety Belt Permissible

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

Maximum Fine for 1st Offense

$175.30 if passenger under 4 yrs

$150.10 if passenger 4-7 yrs

Child Passenger Safety Laws: Virginia

Child Restraint Required

Under 2 years old in rear-facing infant seat (or until minimum weight requirement reached) (eff. 7/1/19)

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

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