Editor’s note: This article was updated in 2022 to reflect changes in Louisiana car seat laws.
In Louisiana law, a child under thirteen years of age being transported in a motor vehicle equipped with safety belts must be properly secured in the back seat of a vehicle. Children under six years old who weigh less than 60 pounds must ride in an appropriate child passenger restraint system that complies with United States Department of Transportation standards in the back seat if the front seat airbag is activated. A child restraint system is defined as an age- or size-appropriate child safety seat, a shoulder harness, or a lap belt as required by the law.
Children less than nine years old must be secured in an age, height, and weight-appropriate child passenger restraint system approved by federal law. The term “child passenger restraint system” refers to rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, convertible car seats, belt-positioning booster seats, or other types of child passenger restraint systems approved by federal guidelines. The law also states that lap belts and shoulder harnesses qualify as child passenger restraint systems.
Every driver of a motor vehicle that is required to have a safety belt system or a LATCH system must properly restrain child passengers under the age of 18 in a child passenger restraint system or a seat belt.
A child who may be placed in more than one category because of his or her age or weight must be restrained in accordance with the more protective category.
Babies and Children Under Two Years Old
Children two years old and younger must be restrained in a rear-facing child safety seat that meets federal guidelines until they outgrow the manufacturer’s height or weight requirements for that seat.
Children Over Two Years Old
Children more than two years old who have outgrown the height or weight requirements of a rear facing car seat must be secured in a forward facing car seat equipped with an internal harness until they reach the manufacturer’s height or weight guidelines.
Children Over Four Years Old
A child over four years old who has outgrown the forward facing car seat requirements must be secured in a belt-positioning booster seat. The seat must be installed correctly, and the seat belt should secure the child in the booster seat.
Children Under Six Years Old and Less Than Sixty Pounds
Children who are under six years old and weigh less than sixty pounds must be secured in a federally approved child passenger restraint system appropriate for their height and weight in the back seat of a vehicle that has the front passenger air bag activated.
Children Nine Years Old and Older
A child older than nine years old who exceeds the requirements for the booster seat may be secured with a vehicle safety belt. The child must be fastened correctly so that the child is sitting against the back of the seat with their knees reach the edge of the seat. The shoulder belt should cross the child’s chest, and the lap belt must secure the child’s hips.
Children Less Than Thirteen Years Old
Children under thirteen years old must be secured in the back seat of a motor vehicle using the child passenger restraint system that follows federal guidelines or a safety belt.
Penalties for Violations
For failure to use any child restraint system, you may be fined $100.00 for a first offense, $250.00 to $500.00 for a second offense, and $500.00 plus court costs for a third or subsequent offense.
For failure to use a safety belt, you may be fined $50.00 for a first offense, $75.00 for a second offense, and $75.00 plus court costs for a third or subsequent offense.
You may only be stopped and ticketed for violating the Child Passenger Restraint System Statute once within twenty-four hours.
Law Enforcement May Stop Your Vehicle for a Failure to Use a Child Restraint System Or Safety Belt
Failure to secure a child in any type of child restraint system or safety belt is a primary offense for which you may be stopped.
Failure to secure a child in an age- or size-appropriate restraint is a secondary offense for which you may be cited only if stopped for a moving violation. The driver can only be fined $100 for less.
You may be exempt if your vehicle is a bicycle, farm tractor, motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, truck with a manufacturer’s rating carrying capacity of over two thousand pounds, ambulance, other emergency vehicle, school bus, church bus, private bus, recreational vehicle with a capacity of over ten passengers, or a commercial truck, van, or taxi.
You may be exempt if your motor vehicle does not contain enough age- or size- appropriate passenger restraint systems or seat belts and the unrestrained child is seated in a rear seat, if available.
You may be exempt if your motor vehicle is being used as an ambulance or other emergency vehicle, in the case of a life-threatening emergency involving you or your child, or if your child is physically unable to use a child passenger safety system or safety belt due to medical reasons.
What are the booster seat laws in Louisiana?
Louisiana car seat law states that children older than four years old whose height and weight exceeds a forward facing car seat must be secured in a belt positioned booster seat. The seat belt must secure the child in the restraint system, and the booster seat must be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
What are Louisiana child car seat laws for rear facing car seats?
Louisiana car seat law states that children up to two years old must be properly fastened in a rear facing car seat until they outgrow the requirements for that seat.
What is the Louisiana law for a child sitting in the front seat?
Louisiana car seat law states that children under 13 years old must be secured in the back seat with an appropriate child passenger restraint system or seat belt.
* 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.