Michigan Car Seat Laws in 2022

Editor’s note: This article was updated in 2022 to link to a more appropriate section of the relevant statute.

In Michigan law, a child under four years old, or a child between the ages of four and seven years old and less than 4’9”, must be properly secured in a child restraint system. A child between the ages of four and fifteen years old and 4’9” or taller, or a child between sixteen and seventeen years old and riding in the front seat, must be secured in a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA assigns safety ratings to most car seats for sale in the United States.

Babies and Children Up to Three Years Old

A child under four years old must be properly secured in a child restraint system that meets applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards prescribed in 49 CFR 571.213. If the vehicle is equipped with a rear seat, the child must be positioned in the child restraint system in a rear seat. The child may only ride in the child restraint system in the front seat if all available rear seats are occupied by children under four years old and if the front passenger air bag is deactivated.

Children Four to Seven Years Old

A child between the ages of four and seven years old and who is less than 4’9” tall must be properly secured in a child restraint system according to the child restraint manufacturer’s and the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions and in compliance with applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards prescribed in 49 CFR 571.213.

Children Four to Fifteen Years Old and 4’9” Tall or Taller

A child between the ages of four and fifteen years old who is 4’9” tall or taller must be secured in a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt and seated in the motor vehicle as required.

Children Sixteen to Seventeen Years Old

A child between the ages of sixteen and seventeen must wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt when he or she is a front seat passenger of a motor vehicle operated on a Michigan street or highway.

Penalties for Violations

A violation of Michigan’s child restraint system law or safety belt law is a civil infraction. You may not be assessed points for a violation of Michigan’s child restraint system law or safety belt law. An abstract may not be submitted to the secretary of state for a violation of Michigan’s child restraint system law.

If Compliance Was Less Than 80% in the Preceding Year, Law Enforcement May Not Stop Your Vehicle for a Suspected Violation

If the office of highway safety planning certifies that compliance with Michigan’s safety belt law was less than 80% in the preceding year, you may not be detained by a state or local law enforcement agency only for a suspected violation of Michigan’s safety belt law and enforcement shall be accomplished only as a secondary action when you have been detained for another suspected violation.

Law Enforcement Investigation of Police Harassment Resulting from Enforcement

All reports of police harassment resulting from enforcement of Michigan’s safety belt law must be investigated by a law enforcement agency.

Exemptions

Your child may be exempt from Michigan’s child restraint system law if the motor vehicle in which your child is riding is a bus, school bus, taxicab, moped, motorcycle, or other motor vehicle which is not required by federal law or regulations to be equipped with safety belts.

Your child may be exempt from Michigan’s safety belt law if the motor vehicle in which your child is riding was manufactured before January 1, 1965, is not required to be equipped with safety belts under federal law, or is a bus, motorcycle, moped, or school bus.

Your child may be exempt from Michigan’s safety belt law if your child possesses a written verification from a physician that he or she is unable to wear a safety belt for physical or medical reasons.

Your child may be exempt from Michigan’s safety belt law if he or she is between eight and fifteen years old, all safety belts in the motor vehicle are being used in compliance with the law, there are more children being transported than safety belts available for use, and your child is not seated in the front seat of the motor vehicle or is seated in the front seat of a pickup truck and all safety belts in the front seat are being used.

Your child may be exempt from Michigan’s safety belt law if he or she is between sixteen and seventeen years old, all safety belts in the motor vehicle are being used in compliance with the law, and there are more passengers than safety belts available for use.

FAQ

What are the child booster seat laws in Michigan?

Car seat laws in Michigan do not expressly say when your child should be secured in a booster seat. Children under eight years old and no taller than 4’9” should ride in a child passenger restraint system that meets federal law. The law also states that children from four to fifteen years old who are over 4’9” should be secured with a seat belt.

What is Michigan car seat law for rear facing car seats?

Michigan car seat law does not state when a child can move from a rear facing car seat to a forward facing car seat. All children should be secured in a child passenger restraint system that meets federal guidelines or use a seat belt (if they meet the age and height requirements and the belt fits correctly). Check your car seat’s requirements before securing your child.

What is Michigan child front seat law?

Michigan car seat law does make some exceptions for when children can ride in the front seat. According to the Michigan State Police website, children up to three years old can only ride in the front seat (in a child passenger restraint system) if all the back seats are occupied by children that are less than four years old. If you place your child in the front seat, you must turn off the front passenger air bag. Teens between 16 and 17 years old must wear a seat belt if they are riding in the front seat. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning urge parents to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines and keep their children in the back seat until they reach 13 years old.  

* Ms. Blake is licensed in the state of Maryland. The information provided in this article does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Attorney Denise A. Blake*

Denise practices family law at Blake Law, LLC in Westminster, Maryland. She holds a Juris Doctor with an emphasis in Family Law from the University of Baltimore School of Law.