Minnesota has child safety seat and seat belt requirements that generally apply to all children riding in vehicles. The type of restraint required varies depending on the age and height of the child and the guidelines of the child seat and vehicle manufacturers.
Child safety seat requirements. Under Minnesota law, children who are younger than eight years old and no taller than four feet nine inches generally must be secured in a child safety seat or booster seat that meets federal standards. (Federal law sets the safety requirements for all types of child safety seats.) The law also requires that the seat or restraint system be used in a manner that's consistent with the instructions of the manufacturer.
Type of car seat. Generally, there are three types of child safety seats: rear-facing, forward-facing, and boosters. Minnesota law doesn't specify which type of car seats must be used for child vehicle passengers. Instead, the law requires parents to use safety seats in a manner consistent with the instructions of the safety seat manufacturer. So, in deciding which type of restraint system to use, parents should use manufacturer instructions as the guide.
Minnesota law generally allows children who are at least eight years old or taller than four feet nine inches to ride in a vehicle with a normal seat belt.
Minnesota law doesn't explicitly restrict children from being seated in the front seat area of the vehicle. However, the law does require parents to use restraint systems in a manner that's consistent with the manufacturer's instructions. So, in deciding where in the vehicle to seat a child, parents should refer to the seat manufacturer's instructions.
Vehicle exceptions. The normal child safety seat rules generally don't apply to emergency vehicles, taxis, buses, airport limousines, or school buses.
Medical exemptions. For medical reasons, a parent can get an exception from the normal child restraint and seat belt laws. However, exceptions must be authorized by a physician and the parent generally must have the physician's statement (as to the reason for the exception) in his or her possession while transporting the child.
Child safety seat violations are petty misdemeanors and carry a fine of up to $50. However, the driver can avoid the fine by obtaining a proper restraint system within 14 days of the violation.
Drivers who transport minors younger than 15 years old (who aren't required to be in a car seat) without a seat belt face a fine of $25. Children who are at least 15 years old are responsible for wearing a seat belt and face a fine of $25 for violations.
For more information about child safety seats, you can go to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety website. Also, recalls are occasionally issued for child safety seats. To find out about recalls, you can register with the NHTSA to receive recall information about the seat you have or search for recalls that have already been issued.