Kentucky Car seat laws require you to restrain any child under one year or weighing 20 pounds and over in a rear-facing car seat. Children over 57 inches tall or eight years of age must be secured in a seat belt. According to the law, you must keep your child in a five-point harness car seat until they reach the age of four or weigh 40 pounds. Also, if your child is 12 or younger, they must always ride in the back seat. The Kentucky (KY) car seat laws are codified under KRS 189.125.
Suppose you’re traveling to Kentucky or have just relocated with your child. In that case, you should pay attention to the law that concerns child safety in the car because the government takes violations seriously. As a mother of three who frequently travels in and out of Kentucky, I have observed how many parents run into problems while driving because they don’t abide by the state’s car seat laws.
In this comprehensive article, I will guide you through the basic laws that apply to the usage of car seats and child safety while driving in Kentucky. These laws aim to curb the rate of children’s death during accidents. Kentucky Personal Injury Lawyers’ statistics show 161,393 car accidents in Kentucky yearly. Still, many children’s lives were saved in those accidents because of the proper use of car seats.
Read this article’s end to learn about the Kentucky car seat laws for rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seats. As a bonus, I’ll also walk you through the fines Kentucky government levies for violations of car seat laws in the state.
Overview Of Kentucky Car Seat Laws
The following regulations will help you to determine how to keep your child legally safe when driving around Kentucky:
- A rear-facing seat is used for children under one year or weighing 20 + pounds.
- A five-point harness should be used until the age of 4 or a weight of 40 pounds.
- Any child under 12 should always ride in the back seat of a car.
- A child must use a booster seat if they are under eight and between 40 – 57 inches tall.
- If a child is older than eight years or over 57 inches, they must be secured with a seat belt.
Kentucky Rear-Facing Car Seat Laws
In a proper child restraint system, Kentucky requires a child below 40 inches to travel. Your child must be in an infant seat until they are over 20 pounds and 12 months old.
The rear-facing seat must have the harness at or below the child’s shoulders. The harness straps should be snug, and no more than one finger should fit between the child’s collarbone and the straps.
KY Forward-Facing Car Seat Laws
For forward-facing car seats, Kentucky laws require that you use them when a child weighs more than 20 pounds – until they reach the limit as set by the car seat manufacturer.
After the child is older than two and outgrows their safety seat, they must use a forward-facing seat with a harness. A forward-facing seat will have the harness straps at or above the child’s shoulders.
The harness straps should be snug, and no more than one finger should fit between the child’s collarbone and the harness straps. This type of seat is used until the child is at least five years old and weighs 40 pounds.
KY Booster Seat Laws
Ky booster car seat laws require you to use a booster car seat only when your child is between 40 and 57 inches tall and under the age of eight. Without a booster seat, a small child can be ejected from a vehicle in a crash.
Kentucky Car Seat Laws For Riding in a Taxi or Uber
There are no specific laws for using car seats in taxis in Kentucky. The state government has not specified regulations for using car seats while riding taxis or Uber with children.
While the law is unclear on this matter, the driver must have child passengers under eight secured in an appropriate child restraint system.
However, Kentucky car seat requirements do not specify who must provide and install the restraint equipment or who must secure the child in it. It also does not determine whether these requirements apply to ride-hailing service drivers.
When Can My Child Ride In The Front Seat?
The Kentucky Department of Transportation states that you should keep your child in the back seat until they are 12 years old.
Placing your child in the front seat when they are younger than the stipulated age exposes them to severe injury in the event of a crash due to the activation of airbags. Also, remember that placing a rear-facing car seat in the front is unsafe.
Kentucky Laws On Replacing A Car Seat
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet recommends replacing a car seat if it has been in an accident. It also guides parents to replace car seats six years after the manufacturing date.
You may also check with your insurance providers if a replacement is necessary. Always read the manufacturer’s guidelines for the car seat and the vehicle itself.
Kentucky Laws On Leaving Child In Car
No specific laws address leaving your child in the car in Kentucky. However, if a child is left alone in a car and dies due to negligence by the parent, guardian, or custodian at that point, it becomes felony manslaughter, according to the law. It is a Class C felony, punishable by imprisonment for between five and ten years.
Kentucky Laws On Smoking In A Car With A Child
No particular Kentucky law is against smoking with a child passenger. This applies to the whole state except for places like Shepherdsville, where smoking with a child in a car is illegal.
What Are The Penalties For Breaking Car Seat Laws In Kentucky?
The first offense for improper restraint for children under 40 inches tall will result in a $50 fine, while that for booster seat violation will attract a $30 penalty.
If this violation results from not using a booster car seat for a child within the age and size requirements, this fee may be waived if the driver buys a booster seat instead. The first offense for improper seat belt usage will result in a $25 fine.
None of these violations will incur points on your driving record.
Fines For Seatbelt Violations in Kentucky
Seatbelt tickets carry a $25 fine but no license points. If a police officer pulls you over with children, they often check if the required safety systems are in use and if you have correctly fitted the seat belts. Regular seat belt laws will apply once your child is taller than 57 inches.
If you do not follow the updated booster seat laws, you will get a $30 fine. You can avoid paying the fine if you prove you have since purchased a booster seat. If a police officer pulls you over with a child in the vehicle who is not in a standard car seat but is supposed to be, the fine is $50.
Before You Go
Kentucky car seat laws consider children’s age, weight, and height. And as you have seen, violating these laws can attract fines. But more grave are the risks you expose your child to by not following the rules.
Meanwhile, there are car seat laws for almost all states within the United States and beyond. If you travel to a new jurisdiction, remember that these laws vary slightly. For this reason, you may want to check out my other article, where I’ve listed and explained all the nationwide car seat laws.
At what age and weight can a child transition from a car seat to a booster seat in Kentucky?
According to the Kentucky booster seat requirements, you can transition your child from a car seat to a booster seat when between 40″ to 57″ tall and have outgrown the rear-facing or forward-facing seat.
Are there any exceptions or special circumstances to the car seat laws in Kentucky?
Yes, there are exceptions to the Kentucky car seat laws. If a physician has determined that your child cannot be constrained or strapped into a car seat due to a medical condition, fines will not be levied on you when you don’t use car seats, provided you have proof of this medical exemption. Also, if the child is being transported in an emergency vehicle, car seat laws do not apply.
Where can I get car seat help in Kentucky?
You can contact Safe Kids WorldWide branches in Kentucky. It is a global nonprofit dedicated to protecting kids from preventable injuries. You can go to their associates for inspection. Alternatively, Madison County Health Department provides a Child Passenger Safety Program. You can also contact Lexington in Kentucky. The Lexington Fire Department offers citizens free training on correctly installing car seats.