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.

Child Passenger Safety Laws: 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

Child Passenger Safety Laws: 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)

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