Ohio Car Seat Laws
Under the Ohio car seat laws, child passengers must use a car or booster seat whenever they ride in a motor vehicle unless they are old enough or meet the minimum height requirements for using an adult seat belt.
As part of these booster seat laws, children may switch to an adult seat belt once they are tall enough to sit with their legs bent and their backs straight against the vehicle’s rear seat.
However, the shoulder belt must rest against the middle of the child’s chest and shoulder but not the throat or neck. The lap belt must remain snug against the child’s thighs. Drivers who fail to restrain children properly may receive a traffic ticket.
To increase car seat safety in OH, qualifying low-income families who reside in the state may obtain free child restraints through the Ohio Buckles Buckeyes (OBB) program under the state Department of Health (ODH). Within the past five years, the OBB program has donated more than 17,000 safety seats to families in need.
To learn more about these car seat guidelines, review the information below.
What are the car seat laws in Ohio?
As part of the Ohio car seat requirements, child passengers must sit on an appropriately sized safety or booster seat until they meet minimum height requirements or turn eight years of age. The driver is responsible for ensuring that all passengers are properly secured with a seat belt restraint. Failure to do so can result in a citation on the motorist’s driving record. Under the state’s Child Passenger Safety Law:
- Children who are four years of age or younger OR weigh less than 40 pounds must use a car seat that meets federal safety standards.
- Children who are younger than eight years of age OR shorter than four feet nine inches tall must sit on an appropriately sized booster seat.
- Children who are between the ages of eight and 15 must sit on a child car seat or use a safety belt when traveling in a motor vehicle.
Once children turn eight years of age or reach four feet nine inches in height, they may use a seat belt rather than a car or booster seat. As part of these car seat guidelines, children must also sit in the back seat of a vehicle until they turn 13 years of age.
Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in Ohio
If drivers violate the OH car seat law, then they will need to pay a fine of between $25 and $75 per violation. Drivers who do not pay traffic tickets can have their driver’s license suspended.
Types of Car Seats
Current Ohio car seat rules do not require drivers to use specific types of child restraints such as forward- or rear-facing seats. However, the ODH recommends using a rear-facing child seat until children turn two years of age. Then, the ODH recommends using a forward facing car seat if children are between two and four years of age or weigh less than 40 pounds.
Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat, they may use a booster seat until they can meet the state’s minimum height and age requirements for using an adult seat belt. However, specific booster seat weight restrictions may vary by product manufacturer.
Moreover, the best car seats for children include:
- Rear-facing seats for toddlers or babies between birth and three years of age.
- Front-facing seats for children who are too big for a rear-facing seat but too small for a booster. Depending on the size of the child, forward-facing seats are ideal for children who are between one and seven years of age.
- Backless or high-back booster seats for children who are at least four feet nine inches tall or eight years of age or older. Depending on the size of the child, boosters are ideal for children who are between four and 12 years of age.
The safest car seats, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), include rear-facing seats such as the 4moms Infant Seat, Baby Trend Inertia, Britrax B-Safe 35 Elite and Evenflo SafeMax Infant Seat. Top-rated convertible car seat models include the Baby Trend Protect Sport, Britax Advocate ClickTight, and the Britax Pavilion 70 G3.
While convertible seats can be used as rear- or front-facing seats, those that face the rear of a vehicle generally receive a higher safety rating from the NHTSA.
Moreover, several top-rated child booster seat models include the Baby Trend PROtect Yumi Folding Booster, Cosco Topside, Cybex Solution X-Fix and the Diono Santa Fe. These booster seats received a five-star rating from the NHTSA in terms of securing the child.
Car Seat Installation Information
To meet the requirements under the child car seat laws in Ohio, and, therefore, avoiding paying a traffic ticket, drivers must learn how to properly install a car seat. To do so, they must refer to the instruction manual that came with their safety seat as well as the car seat portion of their vehicle’s ownership manual.
However, drivers will need to install the seat using the vehicle’s seat belt or lower anchors in most cases. To learn more about the car seat installation process, complete the following steps:
- Place the car seat in the back of the vehicle, facing the front or rear of the vehicle (depending on the car seat type)
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly install the seat
- If installing a front-facing seat that contains a tether strap, then connect it to the vehicle’s tether anchor
- If installing a rear-facing seat, then install it at a slight recline
- If installing a booster seat, then place it flat against the vehicle’s rear seat
- Secure the seat and tug at the belt path to ensure that the seat cannot move more than one inch from front-to-back or side-to-side