Editor’s note: This article was updated in 2022 to link to a more appropriate section of the relevant statute.
In Kentucky law, the driver and all passengers in a motor vehicle manufactured after 1965 must wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt while traveling on Kentucky’s roadways unless the passenger is a child who is properly secured in a child restraint system.
Kentucky law does not specify how long a child must ride rear-facing in a child restraint system, until what age a child must be properly secured in a child restraint system, or at what age a child may be properly secured in a booster seat or seat belt instead of a child restraint system.
Instead, Kentucky law requires that a child under the height of forty inches must be properly secured in a child restraint system that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards when being transported in a motor vehicle on a roadway, street, or highway. A child restraint system is defined as a device conforming to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards that is manufactured for the purpose of transporting a child in a motor vehicle. A motor vehicle is defined as a vehicle designed to carry ten or fewer passengers and used to transport people.
Infant car seats and convertible car seats that meet all federal safety standards are examples of child restraint systems referenced in Kentucky car seat laws.
Law Enforcement May Stop or Seize a Person Who is in Violation of Seatbelt Laws
With the passing of House Bill 117 in 2006, a law enforcement officer may stop any vehicle for violation of Kentucky’s seat belt laws, including violation of child restraint system laws.
Law Enforcement May Not Erect Roadblocks Solely to Check for Violations
All law enforcement agencies in Kentucky are prohibited from setting up roadblocks solely to check for violations of Kentucky’s seat belt laws. However, if you are stopped at a roadblock set up for another purpose, you may be issued a uniform citation for violating Kentucky’s seat belt laws.
Sales and Registration of New Passenger Vehicles
All new passenger vehicles sold in Kentucky and all new passenger vehicles registered in Kentucky must have adequate anchors or attachments on the front seats attached to the floor or sides of the rear of the seats to which seat belts may be secured.
You may be exempt from the requirement to wear a seat belt if you have in your possession a written statement from a licensed physician or chiropractor that you cannot wear a seat belt for medical or physical reasons. This provision supersedes any local ordinances regarding seat belts.
You may be exempt from the requirements to wear a seat belt if you are engaged in the performance of your duties as a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service. This provision supersedes any local ordinances regarding seat belts.
You may be exempt from the requirement to use a child restraint system if your vehicle is a motorcycle, a motor driven cycle, or a farm truck having a gross weight of one ton or more and registered only for agricultural use.
What are Kentucky child booster seat laws?
Kentucky car seat laws do not define when a child can switch from a forward-facing car seat to a booster seat. The law only states that children under 40 inches tall must be secured in a child passenger restraint system that meets federal guidelines for their age, height, and weight. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seats may ride in a booster seat until they can properly wear a seat belt.
What are Kentucky car seat laws for rear facing car seats?
Kentucky car seat law does not stipulate when a child can switch from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing car seat. KY car seat laws only say that children under 40 inches tall must be secured in a child passenger restraint system. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says keeping your child in a rear-facing car seat until they outgrow the height and weight guidelines. Check your child passenger restraint system’s height and weight limits before securing your child.
When can a child ride in the front seat in Kentucky?
Kentucky child car seat laws do not state when a child can safely ride in the front seat. To keep children safe, the American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to make children ride in the back seat until they turn thirteen years old. Minor children, no matter their age, are always safest in the back seat.
* Ms. Blake is licensed in the state of Maryland. The information provided in this article does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.