Indiana car seat laws

I read up on what is required for restraints for kids, but then it keeps slipping from my mind.  I ain’t a lawyer, but here’s my paraphrase of Indiana Code 9-19-11: Passenger Restraint Systems for Children, in the vernacular:

The Rules

  1. A kid under 8 years old has to be in a child restraint system (i.e., a seat belt is not enough)  —Section 2(a)(2);
  2. A kid who’s at least 8 but less than 16 years old has to be in either a child restraint system or a seat belt —Section 3.6(a);

The Exceptions

  1. If a kid is under 8 years old but everybody agrees he’s too big to fit in a child restraint system, he can be in a seat belt instead —Section 3(a) and tail end of Section 2(a)(2);
  2. If you don’t hold an Indiana license, it looks a kid under 16 years old just has to either be in a child restraint system or a seat belt  —Section 3.3;  (This exception was removed in 2009 by P.L. 146-2009/HEA 1339.)
  3. If all the available lap-and-shoulder seat belts in the back seat(s) are being used for kids in child restraint systems and you have another kid to put somewhere, you can use just a lap safety belt instead of a child restraint system, IF he weighs more than 40 pounds.  —Section 3.7(2)(B)
  4. The Rules don’t apply to school buses, taxicabs, ambulances, public passenger buses, 9+ passenger church vans, antique motor vehicles, motorcycles, police cars, emergencies, or funeral processions!  —Section 1.


  • The law doesn’t prohibit putting kids in car seats in the front passenger seat (though my car seat’s instructions do forbid using a rear facing infant seat in front if there’s an airbag!)
  • The law says that the child restraint system’s manufacturer’s instructions must be followed  — the law does not say “no booster seats till age 4”.  So if according to a booster seat’s manufacturer’s instructions my child is of the right height and weight to move to a booster seat, I conclude that that’s within the law. —Section 9-19-11-2(a)(2)
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