Rhode Island’s Child Car Seat and Seatbelt Laws

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

All Rhode Island passengers and drivers are required to wear safety belts. And children who are younger than eight years old must generally be in a car seat or other appropriate restraint system. The type of restraint required will vary depending on the age, height, and weight of the child. This article outlines the requirements for vehicle occupant safety and the penalties of a violation.

Car Seat Requirements

Rhode Island drivers are responsible for ensuring all child passengers are properly secured and safe.

All children under eight years old must be properly secured in a child safety restraint system in the rear seat of the vehicle. Depending on the size of the child, this rule may require the use of an infant seat, rear- or forward-facing harness, or a booster seat.

Rear-Facing Car Seats

Children under two years old or under 30 pounds must be secured in a rear-facing harness or infant seat.

Forward-Facing Car Seats

Once a child is two years old or exceeds the rear-facing seat's size limits, the child should use a forward-facing harness until reaching the seat's limits.

Booster Seats

When a child outgrows his or her forward-facing seat, the next step up is a booster seat. Typically, a child will remain in a booster seat until about age eight.

Exceptions to Rhode Island's Child Seat Law

A child who's at least 57 inches tall or weighs at least 80 pounds is not required to use a child safety restraint system but must still sit in the rear seats of the vehicle.

Are Children Allowed to Sit in the Front Seat of a Car?

Children are only permitted to be secured in the front seat if the rear seats are occupied by other children or the vehicle does not have rear seats.

Costs of a Car Seat Ticket

A child restraint violation will result in an $85 fine, plus court costs. The judge will dismiss the citation if the driver can prove within seven days that he or she purchased an appropriate car seat.

Costs of Seatbelt Tickets

Rhode Island drivers are responsible for ensuring all occupants in the vehicle are using seatbelts.

Costs. A seatbelt violation will cost the driver a $40 fine, plus court costs. Drivers holding a learner's permit may face additional penalties and license advancement delays for seatbelt violations.

Exceptions. Certain people and vehicles are exempt from the seatbelt requirement, including postal carriers and vehicles made before 1966. And occupants who are medically unable to wear seatbelts are exempt but must carry a physician certification for the condition.

Recommendations

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is in charge of providing education and recommendations for car seat safety. These are only recommendations for choosing a car seat and seats should always be used according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Birth

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13+

Rear-facing

Forward-facing

Booster

Seat Belt

Registration

While most car seats are federally approved, it's a good idea to register your car seat to be notified regarding recalls.

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