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Minnesota Car Seat Laws

A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in MinnesotaA summary of Minnesota laws as they apply to Car Seats

  • Infants should be secured in rear-facing seats until they reach 1 year old and weigh 20 or more pounds.
  • Children can travel in forward-facing seats once they outgrow the rear-facing seat or when they are over 1 year old and weigh at least 22 pounds.
  • Children who have outgrown the forward-facing seats and are younger than 8 years or shorter than 4’9’’ are required to ride on booster seats.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends children should remain in the back seat until they are 13 years old.

Rear-facing Car Seat Laws in Minnesota

Minnesota law requires infants to be secured in rear-facing seats until they reach 1 year old and weigh 20 or more pounds. In addition, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety recommends children should stay rear-facing for as long as possible until they reach the seat’s maximum weight and height limits. Typically, this usually happens when the infant’s head is within 1 inch of the top of the seat. Most experts agree that a minimum of 2 years in rear-facing seats is the best practice. However, seats such as convertibles can support weights of up to 40 pounds allowing children to remain rear-facing for as long as 4 years, depending on their growth rate. You can switch from infant-only seats to convertible seats when your child weighs 20 pounds and is one year old. This way, your child can remain rear-facing for longer.  The seat should always be secured in the back seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Forward Facing Car Seat Laws in Minnesota

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, children can travel in forward-facing seats once they outgrow the rear-facing seat or when they are over 1 year old and weigh 22 pounds or more. A five-point harness should be used to secure the child in the seat. The straps should snugly fit above the child’s collarbone to prevent excessive movement of the child in case of a car crash. Parents should use this type of seat until the child has outgrown the manufacturer’s set limits. Some seats can take weights of up to 65 pounds, resulting in some children using the seat until age 7. Also, a child is considered to have outgrown the forward-facing position when his or her ears are at the same level as the top of the seat, and when shoulders are higher than the top harness slots.

Booster Seat Regulations in Minnesota

By law, children who have outgrown the forward-facing seats and are younger than 8 years or shorter than 4’9” are required to ride on federally approved booster seats. A booster seat raises a child so that adult seat belts can fit correctly. A correct fit means the lap portion of the belt lies low and snug across the upper thighs while the shoulder portion should snugly go across the chest area. If your child is a bit tall and the car does not have a headrest, use a high back booster to avoid potential neck injuries. Booster seats should be fastened with lap-shoulder belts (lap-only belts are not recommended) and be secured in the rear of the car. Use a booster seat until your child exceeds the manufacturer’s weight (up to 80 pounds) and height requirements or until he or she is big enough to fit in seat belts. Parents are encouraged to make a judgment based on height. This is because a height of 4’9” or more is suitable for safety belts. Also, if your child can sit comfortably on the normal car seat with feet touching the floor without slouching, then he or she is ready to wear a safety belt.

Requirements for children to use the front seat in Minnesota

The state of Minnesota does not have laws regarding the use of front seats by children. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends children should remain in the back seat until they are 13 years old. This is in line with most experts who insist the back seat is generally safer and does not have adult airbags installed. Airbags are designed to deploy with a huge amount of force, so putting a child in front of one can be lethal.

Law on leaving a child in a car in Minnesota

The state has no laws regarding leaving children unsupervised inside a car. We do not recommend leaving your child alone in the vehicle for any length of time.

Law on Smoking in a car with a child in Minnesota

It is not illegal to smoke inside a private vehicle, regardless of whether child passengers are present. We do not recommend that you smoke inside your vehicle with children present.

Car Seat Laws Exemptions in Minnesota

Children being transported in an emergency vehicle and those riding with a peace officer on duty are exempted from wearing child restraint systems. Also exempted are children riding in commercial vehicles such as taxis or cars for hire (this excludes leased, rented, or borrowed cars). In case of a disability, medical or physical issue, children have to be certified by a physician as having a condition that makes it unsuitable to use child restraint devices.

Law on Car Seat Replacement in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety advises parents not to use child-safety seats that have been involved in accidents.

More Minnesota Laws