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Michigan Car Seat Laws

A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in Michigan

Michigan Car Seat Laws a Summary

  • Infants should ride on rear-facing seats until they are at least 2 years old.
  • Children 2 years or older or those who have exceeded the rear-facing weight and height limits should ride on forward-facing seats.
  • The state law requires children who have outgrown the forward-facing seat to ride on booster seats until they are 8 years old or 4-feet-9-inches tall.
  • Michigan law requires all children younger than 4 years to ride in the rear of the car if one is available.

Rear-facing Car Seat Laws in Michigan

According to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, infants should ride on rear-facing seats until they are at least 2 years old or until they exceed the weight and height limits set by the car seat manufacturer. Children can sit on either infant carriers or convertible seats. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends babies should stay rear-facing for as long as possible. To achieve this, parents can use convertible seats since they can support children of up to 40 pounds. This means some kids may stay rear-facing until the age of 4. Convertible seats are also cost-effective since they can be turned to face forward when a child is ready to ride forward-facing. Rear-facing seats should be secured in the back seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions and away from an active airbag.

Forward Facing Car Seat Laws in Michigan

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning says children 2 years or older, or those who have exceeded the rear-facing weight and height limits should ride on forward-facing seats with an internal harness until they exceed the car seat manufacturer’s requirements. With most seats accommodating weights of up to 65 pounds, some children may outgrow this type of seat when closer to age 7, depending on their growth rate. The seat should be secured with the harness and tether strap or with lap-shoulder belts. The harness straps should be tight enough to limit the movement of the child during a crash. If you’re not sure about the tightness, perform the pinch test. A pass in this test means you are not able to pinch any webbing (extra strap material) between your fingers at the child’s collarbone. Remember to keep this seat in the back seat whenever possible.

Booster Seat Regulations in Michigan

The Michigan Child Passenger Safety Law requires children who have outgrown the forward-facing seat to ride on booster seats until they are 8 years old or 4-feet-9-inches tall. Parents can opt for either backless or high-back booster seats. High-backs are mainly used in vehicles without headrests, while backless booster seats are intended for vehicles with headrests. Both seats help in lifting your child so that lap-shoulder belts can fit properly. Using lap-only seat belts is highly discouraged. A proper fit means the lap belt lies snug across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt lies firmly across the chest area. Only transition your child to seat belts when they have exceeded the manufacturer’s set limits or when they are big enough to fit in seat belts. With booster seats having weight limits of up to 80 pounds, some kids may exceed 8 years of age while still within the seat’s limits. However, most experts encourage parents to give priority to their child’s height. This is because a height of 4’9’’ is when seat belts have a tight fit on a child’s body. Also, if a child can sit with the back straight against the seat and with knees bent at the edge of the seat, then he or she is big enough for a safety belt.

Requirements for children to use the front seat in Michigan

Michigan law requires all children younger than 4 years to ride in the rear of the car (using a child restraint system) if one is available. In an instance where all back seats are occupied by children younger than 4 years, then you are allowed to secure a child younger than 4 years in the front seat. However, the airbag should be turned off before placing a child of this age in the front seat. Going by this law, it appears the state does not stop children 4 years or older to sit in the front seat regardless of whether an airbag is present or not. However, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning recommends children should ride in the back seat until 13 years of age. They argue that the airbag present in front seats can be lethal to kids when deployed. Also, most experts agree the back seat is generally safer.

Law on Children under 16 in Michigan

All children under 16 years who have outgrown booster seats are required by law to ride while wearing seat belts. Anyone 16 years or older must wear a seat belt when sitting in the front seat.

Law on leaving a child in a car in Michigan

The law says it is illegal to leave a child younger than 6 years in a car in a manner that exposes him or her to danger.

Law on Smoking in a car with a child in Michigan

As of now, no law in Michigan prohibits smoking inside a car that has child passengers.

We do not recommend smoking in a vehicle with your child.

Car Seat Laws regarding Taxis in Michigan

The law clearly states that taxis are exempted from complying with the car seat laws.

Law on Car Seat Replacement in Michigan

There is no official law regarding the replacement of car seats. However, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning recommends parents should not purchase or use second-hand car seats that have been recalled, involved in a car crash, damaged or incomplete, have no model number or date of manufacture, or those that have expired. They further advise against purchasing car seats at garage sales or second-hand stores since the history of such seats is unknown.

More Michigan Laws