Tennessee Car Seat Laws – TN Booster Seat Law

tn booster seat law
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    Are you a resident of Tennessee, a passerby, or a tourist who has come to enjoy the state’s beautiful scenery and is looking for information about TN booster seat law?

    Tennessee car seat laws ensure all children below the age of 15 years are correctly restrained according to age and weight. Ensure every passenger in your vehicle is securely harnessed for safety.

    If you’re a resident of Tennessee or are planning to visit there along with your family, knowing these laws will not only prevent you from getting fined but will also ensure the safety of your children. 

    If your child is under 12, they must be properly restrained using a car seat or a booster seat according to the Tennessee car seat laws. If your child is under the age of one year and weighs less than 20 pounds, they must go rear-facing in a back seat. Suppose your child is between 1 and 3 years and weighs more than 20 pounds. In that case, they must be forward-facing in the back seat. A booster seat is recommended for ages between four and eight years with a height of less than 4 feet and 9 inches. 

    For simplicity, I have divided the laws into four categories: rear-facing car seat laws, forward-facing car seat laws, booster car seat laws, and seat belt laws.

    tn booster seat law

    Tennessee Rear-Facing Car Seat Laws

    These laws apply to your child if they are under the age of one year and weigh less than 20 pounds. Any child in this category must be secured in a rear-facing car seat on the car’s back seat. It is important to note that if the car seat has a higher limit for weight, such as 30 or 35 pounds, you can continue to use it for your child according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. 

    Tennessee Forward-Facing Car Seat Laws

    According to the Tn car seat laws, if your child is between ages one and three and has a weight greater than 20 pounds, they should be restrained forward-facing while still in the backseat of your car. 

    TN Booster Seat Law

    According to TN booster seat law, to use a booster seat, your child should be:

    • Between four and eight years of age
    • Less than four feet and nine inches in height

    Again, these children should be restrained in a belt-positioning booster seat system in the rear seat and not the front seat. It is important to note that if your child is not within the range of four and eight years of age but is less than 4 feet and 9 inches tall, they must be restrained using a seat belt system. 

    Tennessee Seat Belt Laws

    These laws apply to children between nine and 12 years of age or through 12 years of age and have a height greater than 4 feet and 9 inches. These children should be placed on the rear seat and secured in a seat belt system.

    If your child is not between nine and 12 years of age but has a height of 4 feet 9 inches or above, they must still be restrained using a seat belt system. Children between 13 and 15 should be adequately secured using a passenger restraint system, including safety belts.

    Here is a graphic from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security summarizing the principal regulations for car seats in the state: 

    Tennessee Car Seat Laws - TN Booster Seat Law 1

    When Can Your Child Sit In The Front In Tennessee?

    In Tennessee, children nine years or older can sit in the front seat properly harnessed if the rear seat is unavailable. Regulations recommend that children under 12 ride in the back seat for safety. 

    The back seat is the safest location for children in a moving car. Also, a child can be asked to sit in the front seat if younger children have occupied the rear seat. Children using a booster seat or car seat who are to sit in the front should be moved far away from the airbag or deactivated the airbag for their safety. If your vehicle does not have a back seat, the child may sit in the front. 

    Leaving A Child In A Car In Tennessee

    In Tennessee, it is against the law to leave a child under the age of 7 unattended in a car running if the keys are located in the vehicle’s passenger compartment or if the conditions threaten the child’s health. 

    In such a case, for the first offense, the fine is $200, while for a second or further violation, the fine is $500 per violation. 

    Follow The Manufacturer’s Guidelines 

    Each car seat comes with a guideline from the manufacturer. These guidelines tell you the height, weight, and age limits for using the car seat. These are usually made following the law while considering your children’s safety. Therefore, it is best to follow these guidelines to avoid fines and ensure that your child has the safest of travels. 

    Penalty For Not Following The Car Seat Law

    The car’s driver must ensure that all passengers below 16 are safely and correctly restrained. If the driver cannot follow the law, they will be charged $50 for the violation. 

    If the parent or guardian is present in the car but not the driver, then it is their responsibility to ensure that everyone under 16 is safely restrained. If they cannot do so, they may be fined for non-compliance. 

    Benefits Of Following The Recommended Guidelines

    In addition to avoiding getting fined, following the car seat laws has several other benefits. Firstly, it ensures your child’s safety and reduces the risk of severe injuries during accidents. Secondly, by adequately restraining your child, your child will not cause any disturbance for you that might divert your attention from the road and endanger the lives of passengers. 

    If you’re a taxi driver, by knowing these laws, you can adequately guide parents on how to secure their child in a suitable car seat safely. 

    Extra Rules to Consider with Car Seats

    No matter your child’s age, when you drive with them, there are a few rules to follow. These include:

    • All car seats must be in the back seats of the car. The only exception is when a vehicle, such as a truck, doesn’t have a back seat.
    • You may modify restraints only when medically necessary. You must get a prescription from the physician for this and keep a copy of that prescription on you while driving.
    • Keep any rear-facing car seats away from passenger seats with active airbags.
    • If your vehicle does not have headrests, use a high-back booster.
    • When you use a booster seat, the lap belt must be on the thighs of the child. Do not let the lap belt go to their stomach.
    • If the seat has a tether strap, you should secure the tether anchor in your vehicle.
    • You can check the security of the car seat. After installing the seat, try to move it around. It should barely move from side to side or front to back.

    Exceptions To The Car Seat Laws

    The car seat laws in Tennessee have some exceptions. The law does not require taxi drivers to properly restrain children from traveling in their cars. Similarly, modifications might be made to the restraints depending on your child’s medical conditions. 


    In summary, if your child is 15 years or under, they must be adequately restrained under the Tennessee car seat laws. If they are up to 12 months of age and weigh less than 20 pounds, then a rear-facing car seat should be used on the rear seat. If they are between one and three years old and weigh more than 20 pounds, they should be in the rear seat in a front-facing car seat. 

    You should use a booster seat on the rear seat if your child is between four and eight years and less than 4 feet 9 inches tall. A seat belt should be used on the rear seat for children 9 to 12 with a height greater than 4 feet and 9 inches. Beyond 12, a child may sit in the front seat while adequately restrained. 


    1. What are the current booster seat laws in Tennessee?

    The booster seat laws in Tennessee state that a child must be safely secured in a belt-positioning booster seat system on the rear seat of the car if they are:

    • Between the ages of 4 and 8
    • Have a height of less than 4 feet and 9 inches

    2. At what age or height can a child transition from a car seat to a booster seat in Tennessee?

    The minimum age to transition from a car seat to a booster is four years. Your child should be under 4 feet and 9 inches to sit in the booster seat. You must observe whether your child has outgrown the boundaries of their car seat; if so, they may transition to the booster seat as long as they meet the age requirements.

    3. Are there any specific requirements for booster seats in Tennessee, such as weight limits or installation guidelines?

    Booster seat requirements Tn include:

    • Age of the child is between 4 and 8 years
    • Height less than 4 feet and 9 inches

    A weight limit has not been suggested. However, It is recommended that you consult the manufacturer guidelines for specific instructions on when to make this transition, especially for that particular car seat. 

    4. Can a backless booster seat be used in Tennessee, or are there specific requirements for booster seat types?

    The Tennessee car seat laws have not mentioned the backless booster seat requirements Tn. While light and easy to carry, they are relatively less safe than high-back boosters. I suggest you use these for your children between the ages of 4 and 8 who weigh between 40 and 80 pounds. These booster seats do not come with head supports, so to ensure your child’s safety, you should avoid using them if your car doesn’t offer headrests or if the back of the seat isn’t high enough to reach your child’s ears.

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