Iowa’s Child Car 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.

Iowa Requires All Minors to be in Car Seats or Buckled

All Iowa children who are under 18 years old must be properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system or seatbelt. Depending on the child's size and age, an appropriate restraint could be a forward- or rear-facing car seat, a booster seat, or a regular seatbelt.

Iowa Car Seat and Seatbelt 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 Car Seat and Seatbelt Requirements

Aside from the recommended guidelines, Iowa has mandatory car seat rules.

Rear-Facing Car Seats for Small Children

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

Car Seats and Boosters for Children Under 6 Years Old

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

Seatbelts Required for Children Who Are 6 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 to Iowa's Car Seat Rules

Specific vehicles. 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.

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

Penalties for Car Seat Tickets in Iowa

A car seat or child seatbelt violation will result in a $100 fine.

However, a violator who acquires and installs a proper car seat can avoid a conviction.

Can a Taxi or Uber Driver be Cited for Car Seat Violations in Iowa?

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 About Car 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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