Whether you have small children or are expecting a child, it is important to know and understand Missouri’s car seat laws.

Not only will this help ensure that your child is held safely within your vehicle, but it will also ensure that you are following the law.

Laws, like anything else, do change over time, so it is also imperative that you are up-to-date on the current laws in the state of Missouri.

Current Missouri Car Seat Laws

  • Children under the age of 4 or that weigh less than 40 pounds must be placed in an appropriate child safety seat.
  • Children ages 4-7, or that weigh less than 80 pounds, must sit in an appropriate safety or booster seat unless they are taller than 4’9” or over the weight limit.
  • All children over the age of 8, that weigh at least 80 pounds, and are at least 4’9” tall must be secured with a safety belt at all times.

Types of Acceptable Restraints for Children in Missouri

  • Rear-facing seats – This type of child safety seat has the child restrained and turned to face the rear of the car. This type of safety seat provides head, neck, and back support. This will also reduce stress to the infant’s body in the event of a crash. These are often “infant-only” seats. These are used for children that are less than a year old and weighs less than 20 pounds. 
  • Forward-facing seats – As the name implies, these safety seats have the child facing towards the front of the car. They are designed for toddlers that are at least 1 year old and 20 pounds.

  • Convertible seats – This is a type of safety seat that can be converted from a rear-facing seat for infants to a forward-facing seat for older or larger children. You change the type of seat when the child reaches a year old and over 20 pounds.
  • Booster seats – This type of seat, as the name implies, gives the child a boost so that they can be in the right position to wear a seat belt. The booster seat must be low enough to allow for the seat belt to fit snugly across the hips, shoulders, and chest, without resting against the face or neck, which can be dangerous. These are for children that are between 40-80 pounds and under 4’9”
  • Safety belts – this is what older children and adults must rely on for car safety. Missouri has strict seat belt laws to help ensure that both children and adults are securely held in their seats. This type of restraint is used for children that weigh more than 80 pounds are above 4’9″. 

Exceptions

Missouri Car Seat LawsChildren who are over the height or weight requirement for safety seats still need to be held securely in any moving vehicle.

Having a child that is over height or weight does not mean they don’t need to be properly restrained.

You will simply need to move to the restraint option that is more suitable for the size of your child.

For example, if you have a young child that exceeds the height and weight requirements for a front-facing car seat, you may want to go ahead and move them up to a booster seat.

If the vehicle does not have shoulder straps, a child who is of the height and weight to use a booster seat can be in the back seat with just the lap belt. If there is both a shoulder and lap belt available, you are legally required to use both.

If you have a packed car and there are more people than safety restraints, the child must sit in the back seat.

Children may not sit in the front seat without a child safety seat and it is illegal for an adult to restrain the child in the front seat themselves.

School buses do not come equipped with safety belts in Missouri, so these laws do not apply to school or city buses. For children that are younger than school age, state-compliant booster seats may be used.

Commercial vehicles such as taxi cabs does not require the same type of car seat compliance as riding in a personal vehicle would.

For-hire vehicles in the state of Missouri aren’t required to follow the above-stated child safety seat laws, but it is still highly recommended that an appropriate safety seat is used, even in a taxi, Uber, or Lyft.

Most special needs children under the age of 2 are able to use traditional rear- and front-facing child safety seats. When they get older, they may need a customized car safety seat that takes their specific needs into account.

All children, including special needs children, must be properly restrained as per Missouri car seat laws.

Penalties

These laws are in place to help ensure the safety and security of children riding in motor vehicles. Failure to properly restrain your child can have negative legal consequences.

In Missouri, parents can face fines of $50 for failure to properly comply with car seat laws. In many cases, charges will be dropped if the parent shows that they have obtained a proper car seat for the child. Violations of car seat laws are considered misdemeanors.

Proper Safety Seat Usage

Missouri Car Seat LawsProper use of the safety seat is imperative for it to do its job properly. One of the most common causes of child injury in car accidents is an improperly installed car safety seat.

According to US government statistics, thousands of children are injured every year as a result of improper seating in a vehicle.

You need to make sure that the safety seat is NOT placed in front of an airbag. This is potentially deadly to the child in the event of an accident. Parents will also need to make sure that the car safety seat is tightly secured.

Failure to tighten the car seat in place enough is a common cause of problems with child safety seats.

The seat needs to be securely anchored to the seat and tightly held in place. The child must also ALWAYS be buckled into the car seat, or else the seat may not properly protect them in the event of an accident.

It is also imperative that you use the proper safety seat for the age, height, and weight of your child. One common mistake is putting a child that is too small in a front-facing car seat or putting a child who is too big into a car seat that is meant for a smaller or younger child. 

Remember, infants should never ride in a forward-facing car seat. They are not big enough for them and it puts them at risk in the event of an accident. It is also important that the child is buckled appropriately.

Safety straps should be level with the child’s armpit and the harness should be securely and tightly fastened around the child. 

If you are struggling to afford a proper car seat, there are a variety of programs throughout the state of Missouri that can assist in providing you with a reduced-cost or free car seat.

For more information about these programs, check out this website.

Missouri Car Seat Laws FAQ

When Can A Child Ride in the Front Seat in Missouri?

It is recommended that all children under the age of 12 rides in the back seat. Once a child is over the age of 12, if they are taller than 4’9″, it is safe for them to sit in the front seat. 

What is the Missouri Law for Booster Seats?

In Missouri, booster seats are recommended for children between the ages of 4 and 7. A child must be restrained using a booster seat until they are 4’9” and weight at least 80 pounds.

Once they have reached this height and weight, they can move from a booster seat to using regular safety belts. 

Can My Child Sit in the Front Seat of the Car in Missouri?

All children under the age of 12 are required to ride in the back seat in the state of Missouri. 

How Much Does A Child Have to Weigh to Sit in the Front Seat in Missouri?

It has more to do with age and height. Larger children may have to use a different type of safety seat than is typical for a child of their age, but they will still need to be properly restrained in the back seat until they are over the age of 12. 

Summary

Missouri Car Seat LawsMissouri has straightforward and easy-to-understand laws that dictate the appropriate way in which children of different ages, weights, and heights should be properly restrained when riding in a moving vehicle.

These laws are designed to help ensure the safety of children.

Making sure that you use the right kind of safety seat and that it is properly installed will not only ensure that you are complying with Missouri state law, it will also help to ensure the safety of your child in the event of a car accident.