What are the car seat laws in regard to a booster seat?

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Children 2 to 5 years of age prematurely using safety belts are four times more likely to suffer a serious head injury in an auto accident than kids who are restrained in safety seats or booster seats. State laws should require children to be in age-and size-appropriate child safety seats or seat belts. However, most state child car seat laws are very vague. See the grid below for more inforamtion on car seat laws.

Parents should remember that it’s not age that determines when a child no longer has to ride in a child safety seat, it’s weight and height. Children who are shorter and thinner than their peers may need to ride in a safety seat for a bit longer in order to stay safe.

The best way to determine if your child needs a booster seat is “The 5-Step Test.”

  1. Can my child sit all the way back against the car seat?
  2. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
  3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between his neck and arm?
  4. Can his knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
  5. Can my child stay seated like this for the entire duration of the trip?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat to make both the shoulder belt and the lap belt fit right for the best crash protection. Your child will be more comfortable, too!

Alabama ages 4-8 and over 40 pounds
Alaska over 4 years of age but less than 8 years of age, is less than 57 inches in height and weighs 20-65 pounds
Arizona car seat until they reach 80 pounds and 57 inches tall
Arkansas under 6 years old or 60 pounds
California age of 6 weighing less than 60 pounds
Colorado all children younger than 8 years old
Connecticut 6 years of age and 60 pounds
Delaware up to 8 years of age or 65 pounds, whichever comes first
Florida 5 and under
Georgia over 40 pounds, over 57 inches tall, and under age 6
Hawaii ages 4-7
Idaho ages 4-6
Illinois ages 4-8
Indiana 8 and under
Iowa under 6
Kansas ages 4-7, weighs more than 80 pounds, or is taller than 57 inches
Kentucky under 7 years of age and 40-50 inches tall
Louisiana ages 4-6 and weighing 40-60 pounds
Maine 8 years old and 57 inches
Maryland under 8 years old or 57 inches tall or weighs more than 65 pounds
Massachusetts children 5-12 who weigh more than 40 pounds
Michigan under 8 to be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat or booster seat, unless 57 inches tall
Minnesota under 8, shorter than 57 inches tall, and under 80 pounds
Mississippi under age 4
Missouri ages 4-7 and at least 40 pounds -- unless child is 80 pounds or 57 inches tall
Montana under 6 or weighing less than 60 pounds
Nebraska up to age 6
Nevada over 40 pounds and less than 57 inches tall
New Hampshire age 6 or 55 inches tall must be restrained and properly secured in an approved child passenger safety seat
New Jersey under 8 and/or weighing less than 80 pounds
New Mexico ages 7-12 must ride in a booster seat until the adult seat belt fits them properly
New York under 8
North Carolina under 8 and less than 80 pounds
North Dakota under age 7, less than 57 inches tall, and weighing less than 80 pounds
Ohio 8 years old or is at least 57 inches tall
Oklahoma ages 6-12
Oregon over 40 pounds must use a booster seat until they are age 8 or 57 inches tall
Pennsylvania ages 4-8
Rhode Island under age 7, less than 54 inches tall, and weighing less than 80 pounds
South Carolina under 5, weighing 40-80 pounds
South Dakota under 5 and weighing less than 40 pounds
Tennessee ages 4-8 and less than 57 inches
Texas under 8, unless the child is taller than 57 inches
Utah under 8 or 57 inches tall
Vermont under 8
Virginia under 8
Washington until 8, unless the child is 57 inches tall
West Virginia under 8 or least 57 inches tall
Wisconsin ages 4-8, between 40-80 pounds, and under 57 inches tall
Wyoming under 9
Washington DC under 8

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