Ohio Car Seat Laws Explained

Ohio Car Seat Laws

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Ohio car seat laws state that children under 4 years old and weighing less than 40 pounds must be in a car safety seat. The law also recommends that children be in rear-facing car seats until they outgrow them and graduate to forward-facing seats, based on the recommendations from the car seat manufacturer.  

Car seats have saved over 10,000 children in the last 40 years, according to Ohio’s Department of Health. As a mother, the safety of our children is paramount. Although using a car seat can be overwhelming, following the rules and instructions is crucial to its effectiveness. Personal experience has demonstrated the effectiveness of car seats, in protecting children in minor accidents. 

Using a car seat is a small inconvenience for the peace of mind knowing that everything possible is being done to keep children safe. It is recommended to take the time to read the instructions for the car seat and use it properly every time.

In this article, we discuss everything you need to know concerning Ohio car seat laws for various seats, the fines for violations, and any questions you may have concerning car seat laws. 

Ohio Rear-Facing Car Seat Laws

Ohio car seat laws state that children should ride in rear-facing car seats until they’re at least 4 years old and weigh more than 40 lbs. and should stay in a rear-facing seat until they reach the maximum height and weight for the seat. The law also states that children should ride rear-facing as long as possible.

Ohio’s Forward-Facing Car Seat Law

Ohio law states that children can graduate to the forward-facing seat if they’ve outgrown the rear-facing seat. It also mentions that they must be in forward-facing car seats with a harness for as long as possible, based on the requirements of the car seat manufacturer. 

Ohio’s Booster Seat Law

Children between 4 and 8 years old who weigh 40 pounds and are under 4’9” tall must ride in a booster seat until seat belts fit properly. 

Seat Belt Law

Ohio Law requires children between the ages of 8 to 15 to be in seat belts, regardless of where they are in the car. It also states that children younger than 13 must be restrained using a lap and shoulder seat belt in the back seat. 

Penalties for Violating Ohio Car Seat Law

  • First offense: A fine anywhere from $25 to $75 for the first offense.
  • Subsequent offenses are considered misdemeanors, meaning the driver could serve up to 30 days of jail time and/or pay up to a $250 fine.  

Ohio Taxi / Uber

Uber requires children who need a car seat to be secured in one. Parents can bring their car seats if they choose to. 

Ohio Car Seat Laws Changes

The current law states that children under 4 years old and 40 pounds must use a safety seat that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards. 

Kids under 8 years old who have outgrown their safety seats but still don’t fit in the seat belt properly need to use a booster seat until they’re at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall. Children aged 8 to 15 must also use a child safety seat or safety belt.

What to Do If You Can’t Afford a Car Seat in Ohio?

Ohio has a program called Ohio Buckles Buckeyes if you can’t afford a car seat. This program provides child safety and booster seats to eligible low-income families in all counties in Ohio to ensure all families have a car seat for their children, even if they can’t afford one.

Besides providing car and booster seats, the program educates parents on child passenger safety.


To qualify for the program, the family’s income must fall within the guidelines for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program; however, they do not need to receive benefits to qualify.

To find out more about the program, interested parents can call 800-755-GROW

Ohio Car Seat Laws for Children with Special Needs

Easter Seals of Northern Ohio has a special KARS (Special Kids Are Riding Safe) program to help kids who can’t ride in a conventional car seat because they’re too big or small, have an injury, or have a disability. They provide car seats in the following situations:

Frequently Asked Questions – Ohio Car Seat Laws

What can I do if I can’t afford a safety seat for my child?

If you can’t afford your child’s safety seat or car seat, check and see if you qualify for the Ohio Buckles Buckeyes program described above.

How old must the child be to ride in the front seat?

A child must be at least 13 years old to ride in the front seat, but all children under 16 must wear a seat belt, whether seated in the front or the back. 

When can I move my child to a booster seat in Ohio?

You can move your child to a booster seat when they reach the maximum height and weight limits for the car seat. Make sure the seat belt fits correctly when they’re in the booster seat, according to the description above.

At what age can Your child ride without the booster seat in Ohio?

Seat belt fit is different from one car to another. As a general rule, parents should follow these guidelines:

  • A child can ride without a booster seat when they’re tall enough to sit against the back and bend their knees at the edge without hunching over. 
  • The shoulder belt should line up with the shoulder and chest.
  • The lap belt should be low and tight on the upper thighs instead of the stomach.
  • They should be able to stay in this position comfortably for the duration of the trip.

What about when my child is on a school bus?

According to the Ohio Revised Code, any vehicle over 10,000 gross vehicle weight is not required to have safety belts or child restraints—this includes most school buses. However, the law also says that daycare centers and nursery schools with their own vehicles need to ensure they have child restraints that meet federal motor vehicle safety standards. 

Important Points to Remember

This is everything you need to know about Ohio car seat laws. These laws are essential because they keep children safe until they’re old enough to fit in a regular seat belt, so follow them.

If you have questions, contact your child’s pediatrician or the Ohio Department of Education. If your child has special needs and you’re concerned about them riding on a school bus, contact the school or your special education teacher—they may tell you what you can do.


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