Indiana’s Child Car Seat and Seatbelt Laws

Indiana’s car seat laws and the penalties of a violation.

In an effort to reduce unnecessary injuries, Indiana requires all children to be properly secured with a seatbelt or child restraint system. This article outlines some of the requirements, recommendations, and possible penalties associated with Indiana passenger restraint system laws.

Indiana's Car Seat Laws

Indiana law generally requires children to be properly restrained when driving in a vehicle. However, the law isn't very specific as to what type of seat parents must use.

Kids Younger Than 8 Must Use Car Seats or Boosters

Indiana requires all children younger than eight years old to be properly fastened and restrained according to the harness system's manufacturer recommendations. Again, the law doesn't go into specifics about seat types.

Indiana State Police Recommendations for Car Seats

Fortunately, the Indiana State Police have established recommendations for what restraint is appropriate for different ages and weights.

Under One Year

One to Eight Years

Under 20 pounds

Rear-facing car seat

Rear-facing car seat

Over 20 pounds

Rear-facing car seat

Rear- or forward-facing car seat

Over 30 pounds

Forward-facing car seat or booster

Rear-Facing Car Seats

Rear-facing car seats are for small children. Parents should typically use a rear-facing seat at least until the child reaches 20 pounds.

However, with all types of seats, the manufacturer's recommendations should always be followed.

Forward-Facing Car Seats

Forward-facing car seats are generally appropriate when the child outgrows their rear-facing seat. Normally, kids can start using a forward-facing seat once they are over 20 pounds and about one to two years old.

But, again, always follow the seat manufacturer's instructions.

Booster Seats

Most kids can start using a booster seat at around age four or five. Basically, a child makes this step up once they outgrow their forward-facing seat.

A Note About Shoulder Straps

If the vehicle is not equipped with shoulder-strap seatbelts, a child weighing at least 40 pounds can ride in the rear seat with only a lap belt. The same exemption exists if all shoulder belts are being used by other children.

Children Who Are At Least 8 Years Old

Children eight years and older are not required to use a child restraint system but should remain in a booster seat until the shoulder strap fits comfortably. Children must still wear safety belts until 16 years old.

Exceptions to Indiana's Child Car Seat Requirements

Specific vehicles. Certain vehicles, such as school buses, taxis, and medical vehicles are exempt from the restraint requirements. However, the normal requirements do apply to Lyft and Uber drivers.

Medical reasons. A child might also be exempt if a physical or medical condition prevents the use of a restraint system. Such exemptions require written certification from a physician.

Child Car Seat and Seatbelt Tickets in Indiana

A child restraint or seatbelt violation is a class D infraction. A conviction will result in court costs and a maximum fine of $25 but will not lead to license demerit points.

A convicted person can avoid having to pay fines and fees by obtaining and installing a proper child seat within 30 days of conviction. Persons with prior offenses are not eligible for the fine and fee waiver.

More Information and Resources About Child Seats

For more information about child restraint systems, check the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control. It's also a good idea to register your car seat to be notified regarding recalls.

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