Minnesota Car Seat Laws in 2021

In Minnesota law, a child under eight years old and under 4’9” transported in a motor vehicle on Minnesota’s streets or highways must be properly fastened in a child passenger restraint system in a seat with a factory-installed seat belt. A child between the ages of eight and seventeen years old must wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt, including both shoulder and lap belt if available, when transported in a passenger vehicle.

Babies and Children Up to Seven Years Old

A child under eight years old and under 4’9” must be properly fastened in a child passenger restraint system in a seat with a factory-installed seat belt when transported in a motor vehicle on Minnesota’s streets or highways.

An operator transporting a child under eight years old and under 4’9” on Minnesota’s streets or highways in a motor vehicle with factory-installed seat belts must equip and install a child passenger restraint system meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards according to manufacturer’s instructions.

A child passenger restraint system is any device, including a booster seat, designed to restrain, seat, or position a child and meeting United States Department of Transportation standards.

Children Eight to Seventeen Years Old

A child between eight and seventeen years old must wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt, including both shoulder and lap belt if available, when transported in a passenger automobile, pickup truck, van, commuter van, recreational vehicle, three-wheeled motorcycle with seat belts, commercial motor vehicle, school bus, or Head Start vehicle.

Penalties for Violations

If you violate Minnesota’s child passenger restraint system law, you may be charged with a petty misdemeanor and fined up to $50.00, which may be waived or reduced if you prove that you purchased or obtained a child passenger restraint system meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards for your exclusive use within fourteen days after the violation. You may not be charged if you provide the court or the arresting officer a physician’s statement exempting your child.

If you operate a motor vehicle and fail to secure a child between eight and fourteen years old in a seat belt, you may be fined $25.00 for each violation of Minnesota’s seat belt law. You may not be charged more than one surcharge for multiple violations. If your child is between fifteen and seventeen years old and fails to secure himself or herself in a seat belt, your child may be fined $25.00 for violating Minnesota’s seat belt law. A violation shall not be recorded on your driving record.

Rented or Leased Motor Vehicles

If you rent or lease a motor vehicle, you must provide customers a child passenger restraint device upon request. You may charge a reasonable rent or fee for use.

Exemptions

Your child may be exempt from Minnesota’s child passenger restraint system law when being transported in an emergency medical vehicle by a person performing official duties and use of a child passenger restraint system is unreasonable due to your child’s physical or medical needs or a child passenger restraint system is not available.

Your child may be exempt from Minnesota’s child passenger restraint system law when being transported by a peace officer performing official duties, no child passenger restraint system is available, and secured by a seat belt.

Your child may be exempt from Minnesota’s child passenger restraint system law when being transported by a person operating a motor vehicle for hire, including a taxi, airport limousine, or bus, but not including a rented, leased, or borrowed motor vehicle.

Your child may be exempt from Minnesota’s child passenger restraint system law when being transported by a person operating a school bus with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds.

Your child may be exempt from Minnesota’s child passenger restraint system law if a licensed physician’s typewritten statement dated within six months indicates that your child cannot be safely transported in a child passenger restraint system due to medical condition, body size, or physical disability. The statement must include your child’s name and birthdate and the physician’s contact information or letterhead.

Your child may be exempt from Minnesota’s seat belt law when driving a passenger vehicle in reverse, riding in a vehicle in which all seats with safety belts are occupied, or driving or riding in a passenger vehicle manufactured before January 1, 1965.

Your child may be exempt from Minnesota’s seat belt law when driving or riding in a pickup truck doing farm work or driving for a job requiring frequent exits from and reentries to a motor vehicle operating at no more than twenty-five miles per hour.

Your child may be exempt from Minnesota’s seat belt law with a licensed physician’s written certification that your child cannot wear a seat belt due to medical unfitness or physical disability.

* 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.