Ohio 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 Ohio law, a child under sixteen years old must comply with Ohio’s child restraint system law. A child sixteen years old or older must comply with Ohio’s occupant restraining devices law.

Child restraint systems include infant, booster, and convertible car seats.

Babies and Children Up to Three Years Old and Under Forty Pounds

A child under four years old must be properly secured in a child restraint system meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards according to manufacturer’s instructions when transported in a motor vehicle required by the United States Department of Transportation to have seat belts when manufactured or assembled, even when transported by a nursery school or daycare center.

Children Four to Seven Years Old Weighing At Least Forty Pounds and Under 4’9” Tall

A child between the ages of four and seven years old who weighs at least forty pounds and is under 4’9” tall must be properly secured in a booster seat meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards according to manufacturer’s instructions when transported in a motor vehicle required by the United States Department of Transportation to have seat belts when manufactured or assembled, except for regulated daycare vehicles.

Children Eight to Fifteen Years Old Weighing At Least Forty Pounds and at Least 4’9” Tall

A child between the ages of eight and fifteen years old must be properly restrained in either a child restraint system meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards according to manufacturer’s instructions, or in an occupant restraining device, when transported in the front or back seat of a motor vehicle required by the United States Department of Transportation to have seat belts when manufactured or assembled. An occupant restraining device is a seat safety belt, shoulder belt, harness, or other safety device restraining an operator or passenger in a motor vehicle and meeting United States Department of Transportation federal vehicle safety standards.

Children Over Fifteen Years Old

A child over the age of fifteen must wear all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device when operating, or as a passenger in the front seat of, an automobile.

Penalties for Violations

For a first violation of Ohio’s child restraint system law or occupant restraining devices law, you may be found guilty of a minor misdemeanor and fined between $25.00 and $75.00 with no jail time.

For a second violation of Ohio’s child restraint system law or a substantially similar municipal ordinance, you may be found guilty of a fourth-degree misdemeanor, fined up to $250.00, and sentenced to up to thirty days in jail. Failure to secure more than one child will be charged as a single violation if all occurred at the same time, on the same day, and in the same location.

For a third violation of Ohio’s occupant restraining devices law, you may be found guilty of a third-degree misdemeanor, fined up to $500.00, and sentenced to up to sixty days in jail.

Law Enforcement May Stop Your Vehicle for a Suspected Violation Only if Your Child is Under Eight Years Old, Weighs Less Than Forty Pounds, or is Under 4’9” Tall

If your child is under eight years old, weighs less than forty pounds, or is under 4’9” tall, a law enforcement officer viewing the interior or making a visual inspection of your motor vehicle may only stop you to determine whether a violation occurred, to issue a ticket, citation, or summons, or to arrest you or start prosecution, if your child is under eight years old, weighs less than forty pounds, or is under 4’9” inches tall.

Exemptions

Your child may be exempt from Ohio’s child restraint system law if transported by a taxicab or public safety vehicle or in a life-threatening emergency.

Your child may be exempt from Ohio’s child restraint system law with a signed affidavit from an Ohio-licensed physician or chiropractor stating that your child has a physical impairment making use of a child restraint system, booster seat, or occupant restraining device impossible or impractical, and your child is safely and appropriately restrained according to the affidavit’s recommendations.

Your child may be exempt from Ohio’s occupant restraining devices law with a signed affidavit from an Ohio-licensed physician or chiropractor stating that your child has a physical impairment making use of an occupant restraining device impossible or impractical; whether the impairment is temporary, permanent, or reasonably expected to be permanent; and, if temporary, how long the use of an occupant restraining device is expected to be impossible or impractical.

FAQ

What are the Ohio child booster seat laws?

According to Ohio car seat laws, children between four to seven years old must be restrained in a booster seat when they weigh over 40 pounds and are 4’9” and under.

What are Ohio front-facing car seat laws?

The law does not specify when a child should ride in a forward-facing car seat. Ohio car seat laws state that children under four years old who weigh under 40 pounds need to be properly secured in a child safety restraint system that is appropriate for their height and weight. Check your manufacturer’s guidelines before switching your child from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing car seat.

What is Ohio law for a child riding in the front seat?

The Ohio child passenger law says that children between eight and fifteen must be secured by either a child restraint device or an occupant restraining device (such as a safety belt or a harness) that complies with federal law when riding in the front seat or back seat of a vehicle. Although the law does not explicitly state when a child can ride in the front seat, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children 12 and under are safest in the back seat.

* 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.