Wisconsin’s Child Car Seat and Seat Belt Laws

Vehicle child safety seat requirements, including age and height limits for different types of car seats.

Wisconsin has child safety seat and seat belt requirements that generally apply to all children. The type of restraint required varies depending on the age and height of the child and the guidelines of the child seat and vehicle manufacturers.

Car Seats and Booster Seats

Generally, all children younger than eight years old must be an appropriate child seat or safety restraint system while riding in a vehicle.

Rear-facing car seats. Children who are younger than one year old or weigh less than 20 pounds must generally be in a rear-facing car seat positioned in the back seat area of the vehicle (unless the vehicle doesn't have a back seat).

Forward-facing car seats. Children who are at least one year but younger than four years old and who weigh at least 20 but less than 40 pounds must generally be in a forward-facing car seat positioned in the back seat area of the vehicle (unless the vehicle doesn't have a back seat).

Booster seats. Children who are at least four but younger than eight years old, who weigh at least 40 but less than 80 pounds, and are not more than 57 inches tall must generally be in a car seat positioned in the back seat area of the vehicle (unless the vehicle doesn't have a back seat) or booster seat.

When Children Can Use Normal Seat Belts

Wisconsin law generally allows children who are at least eight years old to ride in a vehicle with a normal seat belt.

When Children Can Sit in the Front Seat of a Car

Generally, kids who are in rear- or forward-facing child safety seats should be seated in the back seat of the vehicle unless the vehicle doesn't have back seats.

Exceptions to Child Seat and Seat Belt Laws

Vehicle exceptions. Wisconsin law contains exceptions to the normal child restrain rules for certain vehicles such as motor buses, school buses, motorcycles, and mopeds.

Medical exemptions. For children who are at least four years old, the parents can obtain an exemption to the normal child seat rules because of medical or physical conditions if certified by a physician.

Child Seat and Seat Belt Violations

The penalties for child seat belt and child safety seat violations depend on the age of the child. For violations involving children under the age of four, there's a $175.30 fine. For violations involving children who are at least four but younger than eight years old, the fine is $150.10 (repeat violations within three years can carry higher fines). Seat belt violations for children who are at least eight years old carry a $10 fine.

Child restraint violations don't result in traffic violation demerit points.

Also, for a first car seat offense, the driver can get the ticket dismissed by acquiring an appropriate car seat within 30 days of the violation.

Child Seat Information and Resources

For more information about child safety seats, you can go to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website. Also, recalls are occasionally issued for child safety seats. To find out about recalls, you can register with the NHTSA to receive recall information about the seat you have or search for recalls that have already been issued.

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