Missouri Car Seat Laws

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Car seats and booster seats are required for young children in Missouri. Whether you’re a resident or visiting the state, you must comply. The Walton Telken Injury Attorneys explain car seat laws in the State of Missouri.

When are car seats required in Missouri?

Car seats are required in Missouri as follows:

  • Children under 4, or under 40 pounds, must be in a car seat
  • Children ages 4-7, and at least 40 pounds, must use a booster seat
  • Children 8 years and older, or at least 80 pounds or 4’9”, may use only a seat belt

Car seat and booster seat use in Missouri usually goes by age. Under age 4, they need a car seat. Ages 4-7, they need a booster seat. After their eighth birthday, they can use just the seat belt.

However, if the child is exceptionally large for their age, they may graduate to the next stage earlier. If a child reaches 40 pounds before age 4, they can graduate to a booster seat. If they are 80 pounds or 4 foot, 9 inches before they turn 8 years old, they can stop using the booster seat.

A car seat should always meet federal motor vehicle safety standards and be appropriate for the child’s age and size.

What is the Missouri car seat law?

The Missouri car seat law is Revised Statutes of Missouri § 307.179.

Who gets the ticket for a car seat violation in Missouri – the driver or the parent?

The driver transporting a child has the responsibility to make sure that a child is using the correct safety restraint system. The driver gets the ticket for a car seat violation in Missouri.

Can you get pulled over just for a car seat violation in Missouri?

A car seat violation is a primary enforcement offense in Missouri. The police can stop your vehicle if they suspect a child is not in the right safety restraint even if they have no reason to suspect that you are in violation of any other law.

What is the penalty for violating the Missouri car seat law?

Violating the Missouri car seat law is a civil infraction. The offender must pay a fine and court costs.

Can you get a car seat ticket dismissed in Missouri?

Yes. If the person ticketed gets the right car seat or booster seat before the court hearing and provides evidence to the court, the court must dismiss the car seat ticket.

Do Missouri car seat laws apply to public transportation?

No. Missouri car seat laws do not apply to any public carrier for hire. They do not apply on a school bus or in a taxi.

When can a child legally ride in the front seat in Missouri?

Missouri law doesn’t specify when a child can legally ride in the front seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that children ride in the back until they are 13. (MSHP)

When does a car seat have to be rear-facing in Missouri?

There isn’t a set age for when a car seat must be rear-facing in Missouri. However, each car seat must be appropriate for the child. Infant car seats are designed to be used only rear-facing. They should be used at least until the child is age one, and possibly until they are age three. When a child is small, the rear-facing seat is best to protect their neck and spine. (NHTSA car seat recommendations by age)

Note: A rear-facing car seat should never be used in the front seat while the air bag is active. Airbag deployment with the use of a rear-facing car seat is extremely dangerous for children. It’s best to have children ride in the backseat until they are age 13.

Booster Seat Laws in Missouri

What is the booster seat law in Missouri?

The booster seat law in Missouri applies from the time a child is 4 years or 40 pounds, until they outgrow the booster seat. They outgrow the booster seat when they are 8 years old, 80 pounds or 4’9” tall, whichever comes first.

Can I put my 3-year-old in a booster seat?

In Missouri, a child must be 4 years old to use a booster seat. There is an exception if they weigh 40 pounds or more.

Can a booster seat be used with only a lap belt?

A booster seat should always be used with a lap and shoulder belt. If a motor vehicle doesn’t have a shoulder belt in the backseat, the driver may transport the child using only the lap belt in the back seat. A booster seat should never be used with only a lap belt.

Car Accidents in Missouri with No Car Seats

What happens in Missouri if there’s a car accident and the child wasn’t in the right car seat? 

First, expect law enforcement to issue the appropriate citations.

In terms of monetary compensation for the injured child, it’s unlikely that failing to have them in the right car seat will impact the amount of compensation that they can claim for their injuries.

The Missouri child seat law doesn’t directly address how failing to have a child in the right car seat impacts a car accident compensation claim. However, Missouri’s seat belt law, § 307.178, says that failing to use a seat belt may reduce the plaintiff’s recovery by not more than 1%. Failing to wear a seat belt isn’t evidence of comparative negligence, but it may be evidence of failing to mitigate damages – but again, only to reduce compensation by up to 1%. This is the seat belt law – not the car seat law. Since the car seat law doesn’t even mention car accident damage claims, it’s unclear how the courts may treat failing to have a child in the appropriate car seat.

Attorneys for Car Accidents Involving Car Seats

At Walton Telken, we aren’t afraid of tough cases. If you or your child has been in a car accident, we can help you claim fair financial compensation. Contact us today for a confidential consultation about your case.


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