USA Car Seat Laws of 2021 – All You Need to Know

Are you looking for USA Car Seat Laws in 2021?

When it comes to the safety of your little one, you will never make any compromises – that is a given.

But it is also possible that you may not even know what is safe for your child and what is not. The case is not much different when it comes to travelling with your child and the use of the best car seats available in the market. 

That is where the authorities and the child car seat laws they create come into the picture. And that is why, in this blog post, we are going to discuss the USA Car Seat Laws of 2021 so that you can keep the little loves of your life safe to the best of your abilities.

But before that, if you were looking for a little refresher:

Here are some of the things you need to look out for when you are buying a car seat:

  • Dimensions
  • Weight
  • Weight accommodated
  • Safety
  • Compliance with safety standards
  • Comfort
  • Ease of use and installation
  • Suitability for ongoing use
  • And much more.

Check Also: Best Infant Car Seats in 2021

Coming back to the point:

Here is the thing – the car seat laws in the country are different for each state. So you need to be well aware of the exact laws in your state to

  1. Avoid breaking them; and
  2. Ensure that no harm comes to the little angel in the back of the car.

Needless to say, you cannot follow the laws if you don’t know what they are. And that is what we are trying to fix today. In this blog post, we are going to share with you the specific car seat laws by the state you have to follow when you live in the US.

This information will also be helpful to you when you are travelling and will be going to other states with your little one.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

Diving Into the Details of the USA Car Seat Laws of 2021:

Alabama:

According to Alabama child car seat laws, if your child is under the age of 1 or weighs less than 20lb, they have to be in a rear-facing infant seat. Between the ages of 1 to 4 or the weight limit of 20 to 40lb, they can travel in a forward-facing car seat or mode. When they are 5 years old, they can switch to a booster seat. The adult seat belt or the vehicle seat belt must be used when the child turns 6, all the way up to when they are 14.

Alaska:

If your child is under the age of 1 year or below 20lb in weight, they have to be in a rear-facing infant car seat under Alabama car seat regulations. From the age of 1 to when they turn 4 or when they start to weigh 20lb or more, they can switch to a child safety seat. The booster seat can be used between the ages of 4 to 7, when the little one weighs between 20 and 64lb or when they are less than 57″ tall. The adult safety belt can be used over the age of 4, a weight of 65lb or a height of 57″.

American Samoa:

According to laws regarding the car travel of children in this part of the country, child restraint systems have to be used for every child under the age of 4. When your child gets older, they may be secured using an adult seat belt, the one that is found in the vehicle.

Arizona:

According to the Arizona car seat laws, if you are taking children under the age of 2 in the car with you, they need to be in a rear-facing seat. The child restraint is required for children under the age of 5. After the age of 5 and until the child is 7 years old or 57” tall, they must be in a booster seat. Beyond this, they need to restrain in the vehicle seat belt.

Arkansas:

The Arkansas car seat law states that all children under the age of 6 or those weighing less than 60lb must be in a child restraint system, whether that is an infant car seat or a booster seat among other options. If your child is younger than 1 year old or weighs less than 20lb, they need to be in a rear-facing car seat. From the age of 6 to the age of 15, the child must use the vehicle seat belt.  

California:

The California car seat law requires children younger than 2 years old and those who weigh less than 40lb or are shorter than 40” to be in a rear-facing car seat. A forward-facing car seat or a booster seat is required for children under the age of 8. Children under the age of 8 but taller than 57” can be secured using the vehicle seat beat in the back of the car. The car seat laws in California also state that from ages 8 to 16, children can sit anywhere in the car but must use the seat belt.

Colorado:

Colorado car seat laws state that children under the age of 1 or those who weigh less than 20lb must be in a rear-facing car seat. From the ages of 1 to 4 and within the weight range of 20 to 40lb, you may seat the child in a rear- or forward-facing car seat. When the child grows older than 4 years old or starts to weigh more than 40lb, they can be put in a forward facing seat. Finally, from the of 8 to 16, they have to use the seat belt of the car.

Connecticut:

According to the child seat belt laws in Connecticut, you must use a rear-facing seat with a 5-point harness for children under the age of 2 or those weighing under 30lb. From the age of 4 onwards or when the child surpasses the 40lb limit, they can be put in a forward-facing car seat without a problem. Until the age of 8 or when the child weighs less than 60lb, they must be in a booster seat, following which, until the age of 16, they need to be buckled up using the vehicle seat belt.

Delaware:

The infant car seat laws in Delaware state that children must be in some sort of a car seat until the age of 8 or when they weigh 65lb. Beyond this, the child can only ride in the car if they are buckled into the vehicle seat belt. The law also states that children must ride in the back seat of the car until the age of 12.

District of Columbia:

According to the baby car seat law of the District of Columbia, all children under the age of 8 must travel in some sort of a child restraint system, whether that is an infant car seat, booster seat, and so on. Following that, up until the age of 16, they must use the seat belt of the vehicle so that they are safe.

Florida:

Florida car seat laws dictate that any child under the age of 6 must be in a child restraint system, no matter what kind of car seat that is. Beyond that, until the age of 16, the child must either be in a booster seat or secured using a vehicle seat belt.

Georgia:

According to Georgia car seat laws, all children under the age of 8 must ride in the back seat of the car in a car seat that is suitable for their age and weight. However, if the child surpasses the height of 57” before they reach the age limit, they can switch from a car seat to just the seat belt system of the car. Same goes for children over the age of 8 and until they reach 18 years – they must use the seat belt of the car to ensure that they are secure. An additional point to note is that children under the age of 8 should ride in the back of the car but if there are other younger children already occupying that space, they can ride in the front seat but only in a car or booster seat.

Guam:

According to the infant seat and booster seat laws in this region, any child under the age of 4 must be in a child safety seat. Beyond this, until the age of 11 or when the child weighs less than 57”, they must use either a normal car seat or a booster seat when travelling in the car. When the child is 12 years or older or has surpassed the height of 57”, they can use a normal seat in the car but they must be in a seat belt at all times.

Hawaii:

According to the rules and regulations in this state, all children under the age of 4 must be in a child car seat. Following this, until they reach the age of 8, you can choose between a car seat and a booster seat. From the ages of 8 to 17, the child must wear a seat belt whenever they are in the car. It is to be noted, however, that children weighing more than 40lb or those with a height greater than 57” can transition from a car seat to the seat belt system of the vehicle but they are not allowed to sit in the front seat of the car.

Idaho:

The car seat law in Idaho states that children under the age of 6 can only ride in the car if they are in a car seat. When older, the child should use the vehicle seat belt but if there are none available in the car at any given time, the child can ride without being buckled in. You can also hold your child to nurse them or take care of a physiological need.

Illinois:

Illinois car seat laws state that any child under the age of 8 years old must ride in a car seat. The type of car seat to be used can be chosen based on a number of factors including the child’s age, their height and weight, the weight and dimensions of the seat, and so on. Consequently, children who weigh over 40lb can use the seat belt system of the vehicle but they must ride in the back of the car.

Indiana:

According to Indiana car seat laws, children under the age of 8 years old have to ride in a car seat whenever they are in the car. Again, the type of seat can be chosen keeping a number of factors in mind, including the age, weight, height, and other things. Beyond the age of 8 and under the age of 16, you must secure the child using the seat belt system of the car.

Iowa:

Based on the child infant seat and child booster seat laws of the state of Iowa, any child under the age of 1 or a child who weighs less than 20lb has to use a rear-facing car seat. Between the ages ranges of 1 and 6, you can use a forward-facing seat to make sure they remain safe during a ride in the car. Beyond that and until the child is 17 years old, you can choose between a child booster seat system and a normal seat in the car with the vehicle seat belt buckled in.

Kansas:

In Kansas, according to the rear-facing car seat laws by the state, any child under the age of 4 must travel in a rear-facing car seat if they are to take a trip in the car. Once they have outgrown that seat, they can move onto the forward-facing or the booster seat. The requirements for this are as follows: an age range of 4 to 8 years old, a child who weighs less than 80lb or one who has a height smaller than 57”. For children above the age of 8, you can simply secure them using the seat belt of the vehicle.

Kentucky:

The infant and booster seat laws in the state of Kentucky require any child who has a height smaller than 40” to be kept safe by making sure they are in a car seat. Children under the age of 8 and those who fall within the height range of 40” and 57” have to make use of a booster seat when they are riding in the car. When they are taller than 57”, they can simply make use of the car seat belt.

Louisiana:

The Louisiana car seat requirements as set out by the law are as follows: firstly, if your child is under the age of 1 or weighs 20lb or less, they must travel with you in a rear-facing car seat. From the age of 1 to 4 or from a weight range of 20 to 40lb, they can be put in a forward-facing seat whereas a booster seat is required from the ages of 4 to 6 or from a weight of 40 to 60lb. Last but not least, any child older than the age of 6 or one who weighs more than 60lb can simply use the seat belt system of the car.

Maine:

In Maine, the baby car seat law requires any child under 40lb to be taken on a car ride in a rear-facing car seat. Once they cross that weight limit and until they reach 80lb or the age of 8, the child can use a booster seat without a problem. Children who are between the ages of 8 and 18 or those who are taller than 57” can ride in the car using the vehicle seat belt system only.

Maryland:

The infant car and booster seat regulations state that a child who is not yet 8 years of age or one who is shorter than 57” must be secured in a child restraint system – you can choose the kind of car seat based on your exact needs and requirements. Once they surpass this age and height limit, they can switch to the seat belt system of the car.

Massachusetts:

The child restraint law in Massachusetts requires you to make sure that any child below the age of 8 and height of 57” is well-secured in a car seat chosen for them based on their unique requirements. From the age of 8 till the age of 12, the child can use the vehicle seat belt to secure them in place when riding the car.

Michigan:

Michigan car seat laws set out clear instructions for parents. If your child is below the age of 4, they must be in a car seat in the back of the car. However, if the back seat of the car has no space and is already being used by other children younger than 4, the child can ride in the front seat. In such a scenario, the child should be in a rear-facing seat or a forward-facing seat if the airbags in the front seat have been deactivated. In addition to this, children who are younger than 8 years old or shorter than 57” have to ride in a booster seat, after which older children can simply rely on the seat belt system of the vehicle.

Minnesota:

The car seat requirements and rules in Minnesota require all children under the age of 8 to ride in a car seat unless they are taller than 57”. The exact kind of car seat can be chosen based on the child’s age, their weight, height, and other factors such as the weight and dimensions of the seat, suitability for ongoing use, elements of comfort, and so on. Beyond this age and height limit, the child can ride in a normal seat in the car while being secured with the seat belt in the vehicle.

Mississippi:

The car seat guidelines in Mississippiare as follows: when a child is below the age of 7, they have to ride in a car seat that keeps them safe and secure at all costs. You can use a booster seat between the ages of 4 and 7, when the child weighs less than 65lb or is shorter than 57”. But before at least one of these requirements is met, you need to be using an infant car seat that comes with a proper harness system. Beyond the age of 7, the child has to use the vehicle seat belt.

Missouri:

The Missouri car seat laws state that any child who is under the age of 4 years must ride in a car seat. The weight of the child does not matter when they are 4 years old or younger. It also says that below the weight limit of 40lb, the child is to be in a forward-facing car seat if they are to ride in a car, regardless of their age. When the child gets older, they can switch to a booster seat. This can be used between the ages of 4 and 6, within the weight range of 40 to 80lb or below the height of 57”. Beyond the weight limit of 80lb and the height limit of 57”, the child can sit in the normal seat of that car and use the vehicle seat belt to secure themselves.

Montana:

The child restraint law in Montana requires you to put any child under the age of 6 in a car seat if they are to travel with you in the vehicle. This also applies to any child who has a weight smaller than 60lb. Older children can simply rely on the seat belt of the car.

Nebraska:

In Nebraska, when you are travelling with a child, you have to remember that if you have a child with you who is younger than 8 years old, they need to be seated in the back of the car, that too in a car seat that is most suitable for them. In addition to that, any child under the age of 2 or until the maximum age limit of the seat is reached has to be in a rear-facing car seat to protect them from any sort of harm. Once they have passed the age of 8, the child can sit in a normal car seat and make sure they are secure using the seat belt system of the vehicle.

Nevada:

According to the child booster seat laws of Nevada and those to do with all other kinds of car seats, a child who is younger than 6 years old or one who weighs less than 60lb has to be in a car seat if they are to travel with you in your car. As it should be quite evident by now, you need to choose the car seat based on your unique requirements, as well as the age, weight, and height of the child. Once older, your child can simply use the vehicle seat belt system to keep themselves secure.

New Hampshire:

According to the rules and regulations of the state of New Hampshire, a child under the age of 7 or one who weighs less than 57” has to travel in a car seat when they are in a vehicle. You can choose an infant car seat, a booster seat or any other kind of seat that fits your requirements. Once the child is older, from the age of 7 to the age of 17, all they need is the seat belt of the vehicle to remain secure.

New Jersey:

According to the car seat laws in the state of New Jersey, all children have to be in the back seat of the vehicle when out on the road. To be more specific, a child who is under the age of 2 years old or weighs less than 30lb must be seated in a rear-facing car seat. When they grow a little older, under the age of 4 years and within a weight limit of 40lb, you can choose between a rear-facing seat and a forward-facing seat depending on your unique requirements. When the child grows yet older and is under the age of 8 or weighs less than 57” inches, you can either keep them in the forward-facing seat or transfer them to a booster seat. Beyond this, they can simply make do with the seat belt system of the vehicle.

New Mexico:

Based on the baby car seat law in New Mexico, for children who are under the age of 1, you are supposed to put them in a car seat in the back of the car. If there is no rear seat, however, you can fix the rear-facing car seat in the front seat of the vehicle but you have to ensure that the airbag has been deactivated. From the ages of 1 to 4 or when the child weighs less than 40lb, they can enjoy sitting in a forward-facing car seat after which they can transition to the booster seat (which is a must for children between the ages of 5 and 6 or those who weigh under 60lb). From then on, between the ages of 7 and 12, the vehicle’s seat belt system will do.

New York:

According to the car seat laws in the state of New York, all kids under the age of 2 must be in a rear-facing car seat. The only exception to this rule is if the child outgrows that seat and is unable to use it any longer. Next comes the forward-facing seat which needs to be used by all children under the age of 4 or when they weigh less than 40lb. When it comes to the age range of 4 to 8 or a child that crosses the limit of 40lb, a booster seat must be used if they are to travel in the car with you. After this, between the ages of 8 and 16, they should be ok travelling in a normal seat with just the vehicle seat belt system keeping them safe.

North Carolina:

The North Carolina child booster seat law says that any child who is under the age of 8 or weighs less than 80lb needs to be in a car seat when travelling in the car. The authorities of the state have given you the freedom and the responsibility of choosing the right seat for your child at any given time based on their age, weight, and height among a number of other factors. It is also a part of the rules that children who are younger than 5 years old or those who weigh less than 40lb cannot travel in the front seat of the car. When the child reaches the age of 8 years old through to the age of 16, you can either use a booster seat or secure them using the seat belt of the car.

North Dakota:

In this state, any child who is younger than 8 years old must be in a car seat with the parents deciding what car seat to use at what stage. When the child gets older, that is, between the ages of 8 and 17 or when they are taller than 57”, they only need to rely on the seat belt system of the car to keep them safe.

Northern Mariana Islands:

A child who is younger than 5 years old or weighs less than 70lb needs to be in a child restraint system. Again, the parent can choose whether they need a rear- or forward-facing car seat, a booster seat, a convertible car seat, and so on based on the requirements at that time. Once this age or weight limit has been reached, the child can sit in a normal seat with the vehicle seat belt fastened.

Ohio:

Ohio car seat laws specify different requirements for children under the age of 15. For a child who is younger than 4 years old or has a weight less than 40lb, you can use a rear- or forward-facing seat. You can choose between the two based on your needs at the time, that is, your child’s age, weight, and height. Following this stage, when your child is younger than 8 years old and shorter than 57”, you can put them in a booster seat without getting into trouble. And finally, from the age of 8 to 15, your child can sit in a normal seat using the vehicle’s car seat belt system to keep them secure.

Oklahoma:

In Oklahoma, the law requires you to have your child in a rear-facing car seat until they are 2 years or older or until they have surpassed the height and weight requirements of the seat – whichever of the two points is reached first. From then till the child reaches the age of 4, they can ride in a forward-facing seat, after which the booster seat can be used for children from the age of 4 to 8 or until they reach the height limit of 57”. Beyond this point, the child is good to go in the vehicle seat belt.

Oregon:

Oregon car seat laws state that children who are younger than 2 years old or those who weigh less than 20lb need to ride in a rear-facing car seat for them to be safe. A forward-facing car seat is then to be used for children under the weight of 40lb. Following this, until the child is younger than 8 years old or has a height smaller than 57”, they are fit to be seated in a booster seat. This marks the end of their journey in car seats – following that, you just need to make sure that the child has been buckled in using the seat belt system of the car.

Pennsylvania:

Under the infant and booster seat guidelines of the state of Pennsylvania, all children under the age have to be seated in a rear-facing car seat in order for them to be safe. The next stage is for them to use the forward-facing car seat until the child is 4 years old. Once the child has reached that age up until they are at 8 years old, they can ride in the car in the booster seat. Beyond this and until the age of 18, the child can then sit in a normal seat in the car but have to secure themselves using the seat belt of the car.

Puerto Rico:

In Puerto Rico, any child under the age of 4 years has to remain in the car seat when they are out on a ride with you. From the age of 4 to 8 or before they reach the height of 57”, the child has to be in a booster seat. Beyond this, the child can ride safely in the car using just the seat belt of the car. One more thing that is part of the law in Puerto Rico is that the child has to ride in the back seat of the car until the age of 12 – they can’t sit in the front.

Rhode Island:

According to the laws set out by the state of Rhode Island, a child who is younger than 2 years old or has a weight less than 30lb has to be put in a rear-facing car seat for them to be able to travel with you in your vehicle. A forward-facing car seat then has to be used when the child outgrows the rear-facing variant. A child can switch to a vehicle car seat if they are younger than 8 years old but taller than 57” or have a weight greater than 80lb. However, they have to be in the back seat of the car. Then, from the age of 8 to the age of 18, the child can sit anywhere in the car but they have to keep the seat belt on.

South Carolina:

According to the car seat law in South Carolina, you have to keep your child who is younger than 2 years of age in a rear-facing seat in the back of the car. When they turn 2 years old, you can switch to a forward-facing seat until your child passes the weight and height limit of the seat. When this happens or when the child turns 4, you can switch to the booster seat. Your child then has to use this until they are 8 years old or reach a height of at least 57”. After this, they are free to use just the seat belt system of the car to remain secure, given that the seat belt fits the child perfectly across the lap area and the chest.

South Dakota:

If you want to go for a ride with your child in this state, they have to be in a car seat if they are under the age of 5. You can choose a seat based on your needs at a particular point in time. Once your child turns 5 or has passed the 40lb figure, they can then sit in a normal seat in the car as long as they are secured with the seat belt of the car. This lasts tills they are 18 years of age.

Tennessee:

 According to Tennessee car seat laws, a child with a weight of less than 20lb or who is younger than the age of 1 should be in a rear-facing seat when out for a ride. Once they start to weigh more than 20lb or between the ages of 1 and 4, they can start using the forward-facing seat without a problem. From the ages of 4 to 9 or until the child reaches the height of 57”, they have to remain in the booster seat, following which they can abandon the seat altogether and make do with the seat belt of the car. They must use this seat belt until the age of 16.

Texas:

Texas car seat laws state that any child under the age of 8 must ride in a car seat when in a vehicle. The parents have the responsibility to choose the right seat for the child at every stage that does not compromise on safety or comfort in any way. From the age of 8 to 17 or when the child reaches the height of 57” even before the age of 8, they can switch to normal seat in the car and secure themselves with the seat belt of the vehicle only.

Utah:

Similar to the state of Texas, parents in Utah also have to make sure that if their child is under the age of 8, they need to be riding in the car only if they are in a car seat. They can start off in a rear-facing infant seat, after which they can move to a forward-facing car seat, and then a booster seat. Once they are 8 years or older or when they cross the height limit of 57”, they can abandon the car seat and sit in a normal seat with the seat belt of the vehicle securely fastened.

Vermont:

For a 1-year-old or younger kid or a child who weighs less than 20lb, it is mandatory to use a rear-facing car seat. It is also a requirement that the rear-facing not be in front of an airbag. A forward-facing car seat can then be used from the ages of 1 to 8 or when the child’s weight is above the age of 20lb. Following this, you can then allow the child to sit in a normal passenger seat in the car as long as they are using the seat belt of the vehicle.

Virgin Islands:

Any child under the age of 5 years needs to be in some sort of a car seat if they are to ride in a car in the Virgin Islands. While the parents have the freedom of choosing the kind of car seat the child uses at any particular time, they have to use one – they do not have a choice in the matter. Once the child is older, they can sit in a passenger seat in the car but they have to fasten the seat belt properly.

Virginia:

Virginia car seat laws state that any child under the age of 1 needs to be in a rear-facing baby car seat that is also only allowed to be in the back seat of the car. When the child outgrows this seat, they can move onto the forward-facing seat and then the booster seat, based on their age, height, and weight. These seats have to be used by the child below the age of 8. From the age of 8 to 18, the child then has the freedom of sitting in the car like an adult but they have to fasten the seat belt. It is to be noted that in the case of any child seat, if the vehicle doesn’t have a back seat, the car seat can be set up in the front as long as the airbag has been deactivated.

Washington:

In the state of Washington, children under the age of 2 need to be in a rear-facing seat at all times. It is actually preferred that they stay in this position for as long as the seat allows. Children between the ages of 2 and 4 can then be moved to a forward-facing seat and then eventually to a booster seat when they outgrow the former. Once the child has reached the height of 57”, they can start to use the vehicle seat belt as the only source of safety.

West Virginia:

According to the rules and regulations of this state, children under the age of 8 need to be in some form of a car seat. Although it has not been specified which kind of seat you have to use at what age, height, or weight, it has been established that you do have to use the seat. Once the child has reached the age of 8 or a height of 57”, you can remove the car seat altogether and allow them to ride in a normal seat as long as they secure themselves using the seat belt of the vehicle.

Wisconsin:

In this state, the rear-facing seat in the back of the car is required for kids under the age of 1 and weighing less than 20lb and kids over the age of 1 who weigh less than 20lb. Next, until the age of 4 and a weight of 40lb, the child can use the forward-facing seat without a problem. From the age of 4 to the age of 8, you can then allow the child to ride in a booster seat. The weight range for this stage is 40 to 80lb. Beyond the age of 8 or over the height limit of 57”, you are good to go if the child is using just the vehicle’s seat belt.

Wyoming:

If you are to go for a ride in the car in this state, your little one has to be in a car seat till the age of 8 years old. You get to decide which seat belt is best for them at what stage. On top of that, the seat should preferably be placed in the back of the car. If that is already occupied with other young children, you still need to make sure that the seat is not being placed in front of an airbag that is active. Once your child crosses the age of 8, they can rely only on the seat belt system of the vehicle as long as the belt fits the child properly across the lap and the chest.

Summing Up:

Well, there you have it. These are all the states and the car seat laws you have to follow when you are in them. While federal car seat laws have their own importance and you need to follow them without question, you also have to pay attention to the individual state’s laws as you can be penalised for not following those too.

It is a must to know the rules of the state in which you reside but that is not all – if you planning a road trip, for example, or you are going to visit family in another state, you need to be aware of the laws you must be following.

At the end of the day, as annoying as they may seem on the harder days, the USA car seat laws of 2021 are there to protect your little one from getting hurt. And as parents, we know that there is nothing more important than that!

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