What Are the Booster Seat Requirements in Different States?

Little girl sleeping in a booster seat.

Booster seats for children protect kids whenever they ride in a car. Child safety seats come in three different types: rear facing, forward facing, and booster seats, with booster seats being the option for children who are no longer babies or toddlers but still small enough to require special protection. 

What Are the Booster Seat Requirements in Different States?

Booster seats protect children from serious injury when they’re riding in a motor vehicle. They are required by law in all 50 states, but there are some variations in the rules for age, height, and weight.

Why Are Booster Seats Important?

As a nation, the United States has agreed that child booster seats protect children. While the use of seats is required now, that wasn’t always the case. In fact, booster seats weren’t legally required in all 50 states until 1986, according to the National Library of Medicine.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides statistics on the benefits of buckling a child into a booster seat. According to their research, children between the ages of four and eight who ride in a properly-buckled booster seat have a 45% lower risk of serious injury or death than an unrestrained child.

How Do Booster Seats Work?

Seat belts in vehicles are designed to be used by adults. They sit across the strong bones of the neck and shoulders, which are better able to sustain an impact if a vehicle is hit by (or hits) another car.

The purpose of a booster seat is to lift the child to a height where the car’s seat belt fits them properly, sitting across the shoulder and going down across their chest. In most cases, children must sit in a booster seat until they reach a height of four feet, nine inches.

A booster seat’s protective ability is at its greatest when the seat is secured in the car and the parent checks to ensure that the seatbelt is properly buckled. Most booster seats do not need to be anchored in the car and some car models don’t allow for anchoring. A booster seat allows the seat belt to work properly.

Family packing car for a road trip.

Examples of Booster Seat Requirements for States

Booster seat requirements are set by each state and can vary based on a variety of factors, including the child’s height and weight. Parents may want to use a height calculator to estimate what their child’s adult height will be to prepare for rapid growth and purchase booster seats when they’re needed.

Here are some examples of what states around the country require.

Booster Seat Requirements CT

Connecticut state law requires car seats and booster seats for children until they reach a height of 57 inches (that’s four feet, 9 inches tall), at which point the seat belt will fit most children properly.

In Connecticut, the height requirement is augmented by a description of how a seatbelt fits and says that all children must use a booster seat until the seat belt fits properly, which is when the lap portion of the belt sits across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt lays across the chest.

Booster Seat Requirements NC

In North Carolina, state law requires children up to eight years old and weighing up to 80 pounds to sit in a booster seat. There are penalties for drivers who fail to comply, but there are also exceptions.

The law says that if no booster seat is available, the child must use a properly fitted lap belt. It also makes an exception for scenarios when “all seating positions with belts are occupied.”

Booster Seat Requirements Florida

Florida has some of the least restrictive booster seat requirements. The state requires a secured car seat for children under three, and a booster seat for children who are four or five years old.

There are no weight or height requirements and children over five are only required to sit in the back seat wearing a seat belt.

Booster Seat Requirements IL

Illinois booster seat law requires that children under the age of four must be in a car seat, while children between the ages of four and eight (or until the car’s seat belt fits properly) must sit in a booster seat and use a seatbelt.

The law specifies that, in addition to the belt fitting properly, the child’s back and hips should be against the back of the vehicle’s seat and that their legs should “bend easily over the front edge of the vehicle seat with the feet flat on the floor” before they can ride without a booster seat.

Booster Seat Requirements AZ

In the state of Arizona, children between the ages of five and eight must sit in a booster seat until they reach a height of four feet, nine inches. 

There is an exception for cars manufactured before 1972, before which many cars were not equipped with seat belts as a standard feature. 

Booster Seat Requirements Ohio

Ohio’s booster seat law says that children under the age of four or weighing less than 40 pounds must be in a car seat. Children between the ages of four and eight or under four feet, nine inches tall must sit in a booster seat.

Ohio also specifies that all children between the ages of eight and 15 must use either a booster seat or a seat belt, and the state provides free car seats to families who can’t afford them through the Ohio Buckles Buckeyes program.

Booster Seats Protect Growing Kids

While booster seat laws vary from state to state, every state requires children to sit in a proper car seat or booster seat until they are tall enough to use a traditional lap belt and shoulder belt combination.

This entry was posted in Health, Lifestyle, Travel and tagged , , , . By Aimee Parrott