Iowa’s Child Safety Seat and Seatbelt Laws

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

To promote child safety and prevent unnecessary injury, Iowa requires child passengers in motor vehicles to be secured in appropriate restraint systems. This article explains the requirements for child seat safety and how to avoid costly fines.

Under 18 Years Old

All Iowa children who are under 18 years old must be properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system or seatbelt. Child restraints include booster seats and front- and rear-facing harness systems. Iowa has certain recommendations and requirements for different ages and weights.

Recommendations

The Iowa Traffic Safety Bureau issued the following car seat recommendations.

Under One Year

One to Six Years

Six to 18

Under 20 pounds

Rear-facing car seat

Rear- or forward-facing car seat

20 to 40 pounds

Rear- or forward-facing car seat

Rear- or forward-facing car seat

Booster seat

Over 40 pounds and 4’9” tall

Booster seat

Booster or seatbelt

Child Seat and Seatbelt Requirements

Aside from the recommended guidelines, Iowa has mandatory car seat rules. A violation will result in a $100 fine. However, a violator who acquires and installs a proper car seat can avoid a conviction.

Under one year old. A child who is younger than one year old and weighs less than 20 pounds must be rear-facing in a child restraint system.

Under six years old. Children who are younger than six years old must be restrained in a child safety device per manufacturer's recommendations. This requirement might include a rear-facing harness, a forward-facing harness, or a booster seat, depending on the size of the child.

Six to 18 years old. All children younger than 18 years old must wear seatbelts or be in another child restraint. A child who’s at least six years old can use a seatbelt but should remain in a booster seat as long as appropriate.

Exceptions

Cars made in 1965 or earlier are exempt from the restraint laws, as are motor homes, police vehicles, and school buses (as long as the children are in the back). If the vehicle is not equipped with enough seatbelts or car seat hooks, a child might be permitted to sit in the back seat without the recommended restraint.

Children diagnosed with certain medical conditions are also exempt if a physician has certified that the child should not use a child restraint device.

Taxi, Uber, and Lyft drivers can’t be fined for child restraint violations, but the parent or guardian of an unrestrained child in these vehicles can be ticketed for not complying with the law. If the child is at least 14 years old, the child can receive a citation.

More Information and Resources

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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