Maryland’s Child Car Seat and Seatbelt Laws

Maryland’s child safety seat laws and the penalties of a violation.

Maryland requires all vehicle passengers under the age of 16 to wear seatbelts or be restrained in a proper child safety seat (restraint harness). The proper safety seat for a child varies depending on the child's age, weight, and height. But, generally, the child needs to be in a rear- or forward-facing car seat, booster seat, or seatbelt.

Below you'll find more details on these requirements, as well as the penalties of a child seat or seatbelt violation.

Maryland's Child Passenger Safety Law

Maryland's child safety restraint requirements apply to all drivers of passenger, truck, and multipurpose vehicles.

Children Under 8 Years Old

All children under eight years old must be in a child safety seat used consistent with the seat manufacturer's recommendations. Generally, the appropriate safety seat will be a forward- or rear-facing car seat or a booster seat used with a shoulder and lap belt.

Car Seat Exemptions for Larger Children

A child who is four-foot, nine-inches or taller is exempt from the child safety seat requirement.

Children Who Are 8 to 16 Years Old

After graduating from child safety seats and boosters, children must still use seatbelts until they are at least 16 years old.

Car Seat and Seatbelt Violation Penalties

A child restraint or seatbelt violation will result in a maximum $50 fine. The total cost is usually $82 once court costs are added in. A judge is permitted to waive the fine if the driver acquires a proper child seat after being ticketed.

Maryland Car Seat Recommendations

While not legally binding, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration provides recommendations as to when certain types of child seats and restraints should be used. If you are unsure of the best seat to use, Maryland employs child passenger safety technicians to inspect and suggest car seats.



















Rear-Facing Car Seats

Generally, the first car seat a child should use is a rear-facing seat. Kids normally use rear-facing seats until they reach about two years old.

Forward-Facing Car Seats

Once a child outgrows his or her rear-facing seat, they generally should start using a forward-facing car seat. In many cases, a forward-facing seat will be appropriate for children ranging from about two to four years old.

Booster Seats

When a child gets too big for a forward-facing car seat, the next step up is a booster seat used with a lap and shoulder belt. For many children, a booster seat is appropriate from about age eight to age 12.


Children who have outgrown a booster seat must be secured in a normal seatbelt.

Exceptions to Child Car Seat and Seatbelt Rules

Certain vehicles. There are a few drivers who are exempt from the seatbelt and child restraint laws, including postal workers and taxi cab drivers.

Medical reasons. There's also a medical exemption that applies if a physician certifies that the use of a child restraint harness would be impractical for a particular child.

More Information and Resources About Car Seats

For more information about child restraint systems, check the recommendations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It's also a good idea to register your car seat to be notified regarding recalls.

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