Minnesota car seat laws state that children under 8 years old and shorter than 4’9″ must be restrained in their appropriate car seats. Unlike other states, Minnesota imposes that children in booster seats must use them based on their height and not their age.
In the last crash statistics report, Minnesota recorded a 27% change in traffic fatalities. This is a worrying statistic and goes further to belabour the importance of car seats and the role they play in keeping you and your children safe.
In this guide, we will review all MN car seat laws, including forward-facing, rear-facing, booster, and seat belt laws.
Overview of Minnesota Car Seat Laws
According to the Minnesota Child Passenger Restraint Law, any person that transports a child in a motor vehicle on a street, highway, or roadway in Minnesota is responsible for making sure that the child is properly restrained in their seat at all times.
Minnesota car seat laws are important to know for any person living or driving through Minnesota. Using a car seat is one of the best ways to protect your child while he or she is riding in a car.
Minnesota Rear Facing Laws
According to Minnesota rear-facing car seats, infants and toddlers should stay in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the height and weight limit based on the manufacturer. There are two types of rear-facing car seats: rear-facing only and rear-facing convertible.
Convertible rear-facing car seats allow children to ride rear-facing for up to 2 years of age. Infant car seats are used for infants up to 22 pounds, some models will hold up to 35 pounds. On the other hand, the convertible rear-facing car seat can hold up to 50 pounds and still be rear-facing.
When putting your child in the car seat, dress them in thinner layers because thicker layers can cause the straps to be too loose and can lead to injury or death in the case of a crash.
Forward-Facing Car Seat Laws
According to Minnesota Law, children can be in a forward-facing car seat when they reach 65 pounds or 4 years old. Combination forward-facing car seats can hold children from 40 pounds to 120 pounds, depending on the model.
When switching from a rear-facing to a forward-facing car seat, ensure the shoulder straps are just above the child’s shoulders. If the car only has a lap belt in the back seat, a travel vest can be worn for children 20 pounds to 168 pounds as an option for a forward-facing car seat.
Minnesota Booster Car Seat Law
According to Minnesota Booster Car Seat Law, children should stay in a booster seat until they are 4 foot 9 inches and at least 8 years old. In addition, children that are older than 8 years old and do not meet the height and weight requirement should stay in a booster until they are 12 years old.
The law requires that a booster seat should have a properly fitting belt that goes across the lap and the shoulders. The safest place for a child younger than 13 years of age to ride is in the middle of the back seat.
Important Tips When Using Boosters
- Booster seats do not come with a harness but use the lap and shoulder belt in the vehicle.
- The booster raises the child up so that the lap belt and the shoulder belt fit them properly.
- Booster seats do not secure the vehicle but rest in the vehicle’s seat.
- Make sure the lap belt sits across the upper thighs snuggly.
- The shoulder belt needs to land in the middle of the child’s chest.
- The belt needs to be on the shoulder and not laying on the child’s neck.
- A high back booster can be used for smaller children and have a harness that the child can be buckled into.
Seat Belt Law in Minnesota
According to Minnesota seat belt law, children who are under 13 years of age should always ride in the back seat and be properly buckled in their seat belts. Children who are large enough to have the seat belt to fit them correctly can use a lap and shoulder seat belt.
RVs & Trucks
According to Minnesota laws, pickup trucks with airbags that do not have a shut-off cannot drive infants that are one year of age or under 20 pounds. Children that ride in motorhomes and RVs must still follow the car seat laws. Children should never ride in the bed of a pickup truck.
Special Needs Restraint System
If the child has special needs, mentally and physically, and a licensed doctor advises against restraints or if the child has medical needs that make using a restraint system unsafe. While some children with special needs will not be required to ride in a restraint system but if the child can ride in a seat, then here are a few options that can be used:
- Vest restraints-these types of restraints are used with the tether strap to give protection to the upper body of the child.
- Some restraints have been specially made to protect children with special needs.
- Car beds can be used for children that are premature and fragile.
Child Passenger Restraint Penalties
There are certain penalties that people can face when not properly following child passenger restraint laws. As far as penalties, the driver is always considered the responsible party.
Any person operating a vehicle with a child that is 8 years of age and shorter than 4 foot 0 inches that is not in a child passenger restraint system (including a seat belt) will face a violation of a petty misdemeanor.
Any person that is operating a vehicle without the proper child passenger restraint system will get a fine of up to $50. The $50 fine can be reduced if the operator of the vehicle shows evidence that they have purchased a child passenger restraint system that meets the federal motor vehicle safety standards within 14 days of the violation.
If a person is pulled over for not following child passenger restraint laws and they have a child that is disabled and cannot safely ride in a car seat or restraint system, they must produce a statement from the physician in court or in the office of the arresting officer.
When a fine is collected for not following the child passenger restraint system laws, the money that is raised goes to the state treasury and is credited to an account called the Minnesota Child Passenger Restraint and Education Account.
The money in this account is to help low-income families to get a free or low-cost restraint system.
Car Seat Help for Low-Income Families
Sometimes, purchasing a car seat can be costly, and some families struggle to meet these needs.
Besides the violation program, there are many programs that are found in Minnesota that give out free car seats to families, such as:
- North Valley Public Health in Warren, Minnesota
- Inter County Nursing Service in Thief River Falls, Minnesota
- Polk County Public Health in Crookston, Minnesota
- Safe Kids Grand Forks in East Grand Forks, Minnesota
- Tri-Valley Opportunity Council in East Grand Forks, Minnesota
- Mahnomen Public Health in Mahnomen, Minnesota
- Walkin County Public Health in Breckenridge, Minnesota
- Otter Trail County Sheriff’s Office in Ottertail, Minnesota
- Tri-Valley Opportunity Council in Fergus Falls, Minnesota
- Life Connections in Alexandria, Minnesota
- Countryside Public Health-Big Stone in Ortonville, Minnesota
- Southwest Health and Human Services in Marshall, Minnesota
- Helping Hand Pregnancy Center in Worthington, Minnesota
- Nobles County Community Center Services in Worthington, Minnesota
- Human Services of Faribault and Martin in Fairmont, Minnesota
- Mower County Health and Human Services in Austin, Minnesota
- Chatfield Ambulance in Chatfield, Minnesota
- Filmore County Public Health
- Winona County Community Services
- Rice County Public Health Nursing in Faribault, Minnesota
- Mille Lacs County in Milaca, Minnesota
- Mille Lacs Tribal Police Department in Onamia, Minnesota
- Cass County HHVS in Walker, Minnesota
- St. Joseph’s in Park Rapids, Minnesota
- Mahube-Otwa Community Action in Park Rapids, Minnesota
- Todd County Health and Human Resources in Long Prairie, Minnesota
Protecting our precious children is one of the most important things that we can do. By following the MN car seat laws and the cell phone laws, we are helping to make sure that we can drive safely and that we can protect those that we love both in our vehicles and those outside of our vehicles.