Do backseat passengers have to wear a seat belt?

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Backseat Car Seat Belts and Safety Laws

Every state, including the District of Columbia, mandates seat belt use. But, unfortunately, from a driver's perspective, there is no one uniform seatbelt law. Some states require all passengers to be buckled, while others only require seat belts for front seat riders.

As a motorist it's your responsibility to know the seat belt law of the state you're driving in. This bears especially true for states that make riding unbuckled a primary offense. This means the police do not need another reason (such as speeding or a busted tail light) to pull you over.

And, depending on the state, riding without a car seat belt could be a costly mistake. Texas has a maximum seat belt law fine of $200. In Washington the penalty is $124, and in Rhode Island it's $75.  

The following grid mainly applies to adult drivers. For more information on the seat belt law in your state check with your local DMV. 

Front Seat Only Front and Back Seat Required
Alabama
x
Alaska
x
Arizona
x
Arkansas
x
California
x
Colorado
x
Connecticut
x
Delaware
x
Florida
x
Only riders up until the age of 17 must wear a seat belt regardless of seat.
Georgia
x
Only riders up until the age of 17 must wear a seat belt regardless of seat.
Hawaii
x
Idaho
x
Illinois
x
If the driver is younger than 18 all passengers 18 and younger must wear seat belts, regardless of seat.
Indiana
x
Iowa
x
Kansas
x
Kentucky
x
Louisiana
x
Maine
x
Maryland
x
Massachusetts
x
Michigan
x
Minnesota
x
Mississippi
x
Missouri
x
Montana
x
Nebraska
x
Nevada
x
New Hampshire No seat belt law.
New Jersey
x
All riders, regardless of seat, will be required beginning January 20, 2011.
New Mexico
x
New York
x
North Carolina
x
North Dakota
x
Ohio
x
Oklahoma
x
Oregon
x
Pennsylvania
x
Only riders between the ages of eight and 17 must wear a seat belt regardless of seat.
Rhode Island
x
South Carolina
x
South Dakota
x
Tennessee
x
Texas
x
Utah
x
Vermont
x
Virginia
x
Washington
x
West Virginia
x
Only riders between the ages of eight and 17 must wear a seat belt regardless of seat.
Wisconsin
x
Wyoming
x
Washington DC
x
 

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