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Ohio Car Seat Laws

A Summary of Child Car Seat Laws in OhioChild Car Seat Laws as they pertain to the state of Ohio

  • The law in Ohio requires infants and toddlers to ride on a child safety seat until they are 4 years old and weigh 40 pounds.
  • Children should ride on rear-facing seats until the age of 2.
  • Children who have outgrown rear-facing seats are required to ride on forward-facing seats until they are 4 years old and weigh at least 40 pounds.
  • Ohio law requires children 4-8 years who have outgrown forward-facing seats to ride on booster seats until they 4’9’’ tall.
  • The Ohio Department of Health recommends children should ride in the back seat until age 13.

Rear-facing Car Seat Laws in Ohio

The law in Ohio requires infants and toddlers to ride on a child safety seat (this includes rear-facing and forward-facing seats) until they are 4 years old and weigh 40 pounds or more. When it comes to specifics for rear-facing seats, the Ohio Department of Health follows AAP’s (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendations which say children should ride on rear-facing seats until the age of 2 or until they exceed the manufacturer’s height and weight guidelines. The rear-facing position is considered safest for children, and parents are encouraged to keep their babies in this position for as long as possible. Typically, newborns will start riding on infant-only seats until they are at least 1 year old and then switch to convertible seats which are much bigger and have higher weight limits (up to 40 pounds). Children in convertibles can remain rear-facing until age 4, however this depends on their growth rate. Rear-facing seats should always face the rear of the car so that the back of the seat can protect the infant by absorbing crash forces in case of an accident.

Forward-Facing Car Seat Laws in Ohio

Children who have outgrown rear-facing seats are required to ride on forward-facing seats until they are 4 years old and weigh at least 40 pounds. The seat should be equipped with a harness. The harness straps should be snug at the child’s shoulders and should be used with a tether to fasten the child to the seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This is important because, in case of an accident, the straps help in distributing impact forces across the child’s more developed body parts thus protecting the child’s fragile body parts. Forward-facing seats can be secured with lap-shoulder belts, lap-only belts, or with a latch system. Most seats can take up to 65 pounds of weight, so this means children can still be within the weight limits even after age 4. The seat should also be installed in the back seat and away from an active airbag.

Booster Seat Regulations in Ohio

Ohio law requires children 4-8 years who have outgrown forward-facing seats to ride on booster seats until they 4’9” tall. Booster seats lift your child so that safety belts can fit properly. The lap portion of the belt should lie flat across the upper thighs, and the shoulder portion should lie snug across the chest. An incorrectly fastened seat belt can result in stomach and neck injuries, so make sure your child is safely secured. Parents can opt for high-back booster seats if their cars do not have back seat headrests. High-backs help in supporting a child’s head and neck to maximize safety. For those with headrests in their cars, a backless booster seat is adequate. Booster seats should be used with safety belts. Using a lap belt only is not recommended. Also, before your child can be considered big enough for safety belts, he or she should be able to sit all the way back against the seat without slouching, and knees should be bent above the edge of the seat, with feet touching the floor.

Requirements for children to use the front seat in Ohio

The Ohio Department of Health recommends children should ride in the back seat until age 13. This is echoed by other experts who agree that the back seat is generally safer. The passenger-side airbags installed in the front seat are designed for adults and can be lethal when they inflate in front of children.

Car Seat Law on Children 8-15 years in Ohio

Children in this age group who have stopped using booster seats must wear seat belts when riding in a vehicle.

Law on leaving a child in a car in Ohio

There is no law regarding leaving children inside vehicles. It is not recommended to leave a child unattended in your vehicle for any length of time.

Smoking in a car with a child in Ohio

The state is trying to make it illegal to smoke in a car with child passengers, but for now, you are not prohibited from doing so. It is not recommended to smoke inside your vehicle with children present.

Car Seat Law Exemptions in Ohio

Taxis are exempt from complying with the state’s car seat law. Commercial vehicles such as cars for hire or leased cars and cars owned by nursery schools or day-care centers are required to comply. 

Law on Car Seat Replacement in Ohio

There is no law regarding the replacement of car seats. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seats should be replaced after a severe or moderate crash. Also, remember to check if your car seat is past its expiry date.

More Ohio Laws