Massachusetts’s Child Car Seat and Seatbelt Laws

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

Massachusetts requires all motor vehicle drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts. And additional rules apply to children under eight years old. These children generally must use a child safety seat or booster seat appropriate to their age, weight, and height.

Here are some guidelines for choosing a seat and an outline of the penalties for violating Massachusetts's child safety seat laws.

Child Car Seat Laws in Massachusetts

All Massachusetts children under eight years old must be properly secured in an appropriate child passenger restraint. Generally, the proper restraint will be a booster seat or front- or rear-facing harness system.

Massachusetts Car Seat, Booster Seat, and Seatbelt Recommendations

Massachusetts has issued the following suggestions in choosing a seat, but all seats should be used as per manufacturer recommendations.

Birth

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13+

Rear-facing

Forward-facing

Booster

Seatbelt

Rear-Facing Car Seats

Generally, infants and smaller children should use a rear-facing car seat until they outgrow the manufacturer's size limits for the seat. For most kids, a rear-facing seat is appropriate until about age three.

Forward-Facing Car Seats

Once a child outgrows a rear-facing seat, the next step up is a forward-facing car seat. Most children can use a forward-facing seat until they reach about age five or six.

Booster Seats

Booster seats are important because normal seatbelts (without the booster) do not fit children properly. Generally, Massachusetts law requires parents to use booster seats until a child reaches age eight.

Seatbelts

Children who are at least eight years old or more than 57 inches tall generally don't have to use a booster seat but must be at least secured with a seatbelt.

Exceptions to Massachusetts's Car Seat Laws

Older vehicles. The seatbelt and car seat requirements apply to all private passenger vehicles, vanpool vehicles, and trucks made after 1966.

Certain types of vehicles. Exceptions to the car seat and seatbelt laws exist for taxi services, emergency services, rural postmen, buses, and tractors.

Medical exemptions. Physicians can issue medical exemptions to the car seat and seatbelt laws by certifying that use of a restraint is unsafe for a specific person.

Car Seat and Seatbelt Tickets in Massachusetts

Failure to wear a seatbelt or to properly restrain a child under eight years old will result in a $25 fine.

If the passenger is at least 12 but less than 16 years old, an additional $25 fine will be assessed.

More Information and Resources

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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