Montana Car Seat Laws in 2021

In Montana law, a child under six years old and weighing less than sixty pounds must be properly restrained in a child safety restraint appropriate for the child’s height and weight according to manufacturer’s standards and the motor vehicle must be equipped with one child safety restraint for each child. A child between the ages of six and seventeen years old or weighing sixty pounds or more must wear a properly adjusted and fastened seatbelt when occupying a designated seating position in a motor vehicle upon a Montana highway.

Babies and Children Up to Six Years Old and Less Than Sixty Pounds

A child under six years old and weighing less than sixty pounds who is a passenger in a motor vehicle must be properly restrained in a child safety restraint appropriate for the child’s height and weight according to manufacturer’s standards and the motor vehicle must be equipped with one child safety restraint for each child. Proper restraint is defined as a child safety restraint system fastened according to manufacturer’s instructions so that it acts as a body restraint and is not defined as the use of a safety belt only. The child safety restraint system must comply with applicable state and federal standards.

Children Six to Seventeen Years Old or Sixty Pounds or More

A child between the ages of six and seventeen years old or weighing sixty pounds or more must wear a properly adjusted and fastened seatbelt when occupying a designated seating position in a motor vehicle upon a Montana highway.

Penalties for Violations

You may be fined up to $100.00 for a violation of Montana’s child safety restraint system law. Your fine may be waived if you present proof that you have acquired an appropriate child safety restraint to the charging officer within seven days of the offense and you have not previously had a violation dismissed.

Law Enforcement May Stop Your Vehicle for a Suspected Violation of the Child Safety Restraint System Law but Not for a Suspected Violation of the Seatbelt Law

You may be stopped by law enforcement for a violation of Montana’s child safety restraint system law if a person in the vehicle who is under six years old and weighs less than sixty pounds is not properly restrained. You may not be stopped by law enforcement for a violation of Montana’s seatbelt law unless there is reasonable cause to believe that you have violated another traffic regulation or that your motor vehicle is unsafe or not equipped as required by law.

Exemptions

Your child may be exempt from Montana’s child safety restraint system law if he or she cannot be placed in a child safety restraint because of his or her body size or a physical or medical condition.

Your child may be exempt from Montana’s child safety restraint system law if he or she is being transported in a motorbus, school bus, or taxicab; on a moped, quadricycle, or motorcycle; in a motor vehicle which is not required to be equipped with safety belts under 49 CFR 571 as of January 1, 1984; or in a motor vehicle with a manufacturer designated seating capacity of two people when two people four years old or older are in the motor vehicle.

Your child may be exempt from Montana’s seatbelt law if you possess a written statement from a licensed physician, licensed physician’s assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse indicating that he or she is unable to wear a seatbelt for medical reasons.

Your child may be exempt from Montana’s seatbelt law if he or she is an occupant in a motor vehicle in which all seatbelts are being used by other occupants.

Your child may be exempt from Montana’s seatbelt law if he or she is operating a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle; if he or she is an occupant of a motor vehicle licensed as special mobile equipment; or if he or she is an occupant of a motor vehicle making frequent stops during office job duties.

* 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.