South Dakota Car Seat Laws | Requirements & Guidelines

South Dakota Car Seat Laws
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    South Dakota car seat laws state that: “Any operator of any passenger vehicle transporting a child under five years of age on the streets and highways of this state shall properly secure the child in a child passenger restraint system according to its manufacturer’s instructions.” 

    If you are driving on South Dakota’s streets or highways, it is crucial to ensure that any child under five is in the appropriate child restraint system. This includes considering their height and weight to determine the most suitable restraint for them.

    We have provided detailed guidelines and requirements below to help you navigate South Dakota’s car seat laws. Whether you’re a resident, visitor, or passerby, it is important to follow these laws to ensure the safety of children on the roads. Let’s buckle up and take a ride through these guidelines together.

    An overview of South Dakota car seat laws

    Car seat laws in South Dakota did not specify the type of car seat to use according to age, height, or weight. However, there are recommended guidelines provided by NHTSA and AAP for every child according to age, height, and weight. The state law requires children under the age of 5 and weighing less than 40 pounds to be restrained appropriately in a car seat or booster seat.

    Choosing the right car seat or booster

    As a parent or caregiver, it is out of love that we do our best to keep our children safe; ensuring they are properly harnessed in a moving vehicle is out of a sense of duty to protect them from serious injuries. NHTSA has recommended the following car seats for children between the ages of 0 months and 12 years before graduating from using a seat belt.


    1. Rear-facing car seat: birth–12 months; 1-3 years
    2. Forward-Facing Car Seat: 1-3 years; 4-7 years
    3. Booster Seat: 4-7 years; 8-12 years
    4. Seat Belt: 8–12 years

    South Dakota Rear-facing car seat laws

    South Dakota’s rear-facing car seat laws require that children stay in rear-facing booster seats until they are 12 months old (one year old) and 20 pounds. Once the child reaches this age and weight, they can then be placed in a front-facing booster car seat.

    South Dakota Front-facing car seat laws

    The South Dakota front-facing law requires that when the child is one year old or older and is 20 pounds or more, they must be put in a front-facing (forward-facing) or booster car seat. Convertible car seats can be used as well; they save you money and grow with the children.

    South Dakota Car Seat Laws | Requirements & Guidelines 11966 & Older Cars Are Exempt

    South Dakota Booster Car Seat Requirements 

    The South Dakota Car Seat Law states that booster seats are meant for children between 20 and 40 pounds. South Dakota requires that you put your child in this type of car seat and use a five-point harness.

     It is to be noted that a child under five years old who is at least 40 pounds does not require additional restraints other than a seatbelt. Children who are at least five but not 18 years old are to be properly restrained by a seatbelt.

    Additional Recommendations for Car Seat Safety

    Here are some additional tips and reminders to consider for car seat and seatbelt safety in South Dakota:


    • Avoid buying second-hand car seats: These car seats tend to be outdated, meaning that they may have been recalled, which can be harmful to your child. Place the car seat in the middle seat if possible. The middle seat is considered the best place to put the car seat to ensure a child’s safety.



    • Avoid using a shield booster: shield boosters don’t meet federal standards because they can be dangerous to children. Never place a shoulder belt underneath a child’s arm or behind their back. This is extremely dangerous and can cause severe damage if a car accident occurs.

    Finding, Installing, and Registering a Car Seat

    South Dakota car seat laws did not state in detail car seats for appropriate height and weight. However, looking for the best car seat to fit your child’s needs doesn’t have to be a hassle. There are resources available that can be used to ensure your child has a secure car seat. Here are some steps you can take:


    CDC Facts on Car Seats

    Listed below are some facts about child car seat safety from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

    Using a car seat can reduce injuries from a car crash by 71–82% for children. This is compared to when children are only restrained by a seatbelt. Using a booster seat can reduce the risk of severe injuries from a car crash by 45% for children between the ages of 4 and 8.

     Every parent or guardian must be knowledgeable of their state’s regulations on car seat safety. Continue reading to learn about the car seat safety laws regulated in South Dakota and how to ensure your child is properly secured.

    Correct Install of the Car Seat

    After picking the best place in the car to install the car seat, use a seat belt or a LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) that can be laced through the car seat. Don’t use the seat belt and LATCH simultaneously.

    Administer the inch test. The inch test ensures that a car seat doesn’t move more than one inch from front to back or side to side when pulled. Only use a LATCH for a child who is within the weight limit. When a child gets too large for a LATCH, undo their LATCH and begin using a seatbelt.

     Find a certified child passenger safety technician near you that can assist you with installing a car seat.

    Register the car seat

    Registering your child’s car seat can help you stay informed about any recalls. You can either register your car seat online with your vehicle’s manufacturer or visit this website to register your car seat.

    Child Safety Seat Distribution

    South Dakota has a program called the Child Safety Seat Distribution Program, which provides free car seats to eligible families. This program helps to ensure families are putting their children in the correct car seats for their height and weight.

     Parents must meet the eligibility guidelines based on financial needs and children with special needs. You can visit this website to learn more about the program in greater detail and how you can apply.

    South Dakota Office of Highway Safety

    The South Dakota Office of Highway Safety is a part of South Dakota’s Department of Public Safety. The South Dakota Office of Highway Safety is a great resource for residents in South Dakota looking for education and support for driving safety. You can visit their website here or call them at (605) 773-3178 for more information.

    Penalties for Car Seat and Seat Belt Violations

     Individuals can face a $25 penalty if front-seat passengers do not wear a seatbelt. A seatbelt violation for passengers 18 years of age and older is considered a secondary offense.

     This means that a driver cannot be stopped for a seatbelt violation unless it is regarding a car seat violation. You can be pulled over for not having a child in a car seat or seat belt. For South Dakota, this is considered a primary offense and a petty offense.

    Note that you owe it as a duty of care to your lovely kids to ensure they are properly restrained in the appropriate car seat before moving.

    Exceptions to South Dakota’s State Car Seat Laws

    There are a few exceptions to South Dakota’s seatbelt and car seat requirements. Vehicles created before 1966 and school buses do not have to adhere to the seatbelt and car seat regulations.


    The riskiest thing we do most of the time as parents is to get into the car and leave with the children without properly restraining them in the appropriate car seat. Installation is as essential as getting the right car seat for your child. Your child’s safety should always be a top priority for you in any circumstance.

     Review South Dakota’s regulations on car seats to ensure you’re doing the best for your child. Staying up to date on regulations and guidelines can save their lives.


    Avatar of Keren Simanova

    Keren Simanova

    Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren
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    Keren Simanova

    Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren