According to Rhode Island’s car seat laws, all children under eight must be placed in the back seat. In addition, they must use a safety or booster seat if they are eight years old or younger and do not meet the minimum height and weight requirements.

The state car laws are implemented to make sure every passenger, especially children, is safe during car rides. Unfortunately, according to NHTSA statistics, 90% of car seats are placed incorrectly in the United States, which is alarming considering that car seats can reduce the risk of a kid being injured in an accident by up to 67%. As parents, it is our responsibility to ensure the safety of our little ones. I am a parent of two, and I would make sure I did everything to keep them safe, including abiding by the Rhode Island car seat laws.

We understand that the law can initially seem intimidating, but fret not. You can discover all the necessary details regarding the car seat laws in Rhode Island in this post, which will help you protect your child and abide by the law.

What are Rhode Island Car Seat Laws? 

Rhode Island’s Car Seat Laws regarding child restraints require adults driving with children to:

*Have all children under two years and 30 pounds be in a rear-facing car seat.

*Children under the age of eight, under 57 inches tall, and under 80 pounds must sit in the back seat of a vehicle with a rear seat. Regardless of whether they match the standards mentioned above, your child may ride in the front seat if all of the rear seats are already filled by other kids, as long as the airbags are disabled.

*If a child is under eight but at least 57 inches tall and over 80 pounds, they may wear a standard seat belt. However, they must be in the rear seat.

*If the child exceeds the height or weight requirements of the rear-facing seat, they may be in a front-facing car seat.

Do Children Need Booster Seats in Rhode Island?

There are special rules in Rhode Island dictating when your child can use a booster seat. When your child is around four years old or reaches the weight and height restrictions of their convertible or forward-facing seat, they can switch to a booster seat. Booster seats elevate smaller bodies to make regular seat belts safe, which is why they are perfect to use on a child.

Even the best car seat can only be helpful when used correctly. They are designed to have very precise; snug fits to minimize any movement a baby would experience in an accident. The harness must be adjusted to the armpit level and tightened firmly to secure the baby properly. The saddle must be pulled tightly at the baby’s armpit level. Straps not appropriately adjusted can be dangerous and put pressure on vulnerable body parts.

Check the CDC’s diagram of the most common car seat fit mistakes to double-check the fit. In addition, the hospital where the baby is born is a convenient and knowledgeable resource for new parents.

While using a booster seat, make sure the seat belts are fastened properly; the lap belt should rest on the upper thighs rather than the stomach. Around the chest, the shoulder belt should fit snugly. The movement of the lap belt can happen quite naturally, so make sure you check on it before you drive away on your adventure.

Rhode Island’s Car Seat Laws do not specifically address booster seats. However, it is stated that children who are at least 47 inches and 80 pounds may use a regular seat belt. Children below that size need an additional restraint device to meet the requirements. And this is where the booster seat comes in.

Rhode Island Rear Facing Car Seat Laws

In Rhode Island, you must use a rear-facing car seat during particular situations. When a child is younger than two years old or weighs less than twenty pounds, they should be placed in one of these car seats regardless of age.

That includes infants and babies that are up to two years old. If your child is smaller, keep them in a rear-facing car seat longer. Many parents feel safer keeping their child in a rear-facing car seat until the baby is two to three years old. If you decide to do this, your child will be fine.

Rhode Island Car Seat Laws Stages

There are several rear-facing car seat options available that are suitable for your child’s age. In addition, you can choose from a variety of car seats, such as:

*An infant carrier

*A baby car seat

*A convertible car seat that faces backward

These options would meet the minimum requirements for a rear-facing seat in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Forward Facing Car Seat

Like every other state, Rhode Island has its own car seat laws regarding when your child can transition to a forward-facing car seat. Your child must be at least two years old and weigh over twenty pounds to use a forward-facing car seat.

If your child is two and still below twenty pounds, you must keep them in a rear-facing car seat. That way, they will be safer in case of an accident. Several rear-facing car seats are available for purchase with higher weight ratings. Some car seats allow the child to weigh up to 35 pounds and still face backward while driving. So if you want to wait before turning your child into a forward-facing position, that is up to you. Use your best judgment.

Consequences of Violating Rhode Island Car Seat Laws: Penalties and Potential Legal Issues for Parents

If you receive a violation of the Rhode Island Car Seat Laws, you will be fined $85 and need to pay court costs. However, the judge will dismiss the citation if the driver can purchase an appropriate car seat within seven days of the violation.

However, you will have to appear before a judge if you do not take care of this matter. That is because not using a child restraint in Rhode Island is considered child endangerment. Therefore, under Rhode Island law, the failure to properly restrain a child cannot be used as contributory or comparative negligence at trial. Contributory or comparative negligence is a form of partial blame assigned in a legal scenario.

This means that if the child is involved in an accident, the lack of proper restraint is not admissible as evidence. The person who hurt the child is not less at fault because the child was not in a car seat. Let us be responsible parents and always follow the law.

What is the AAP Recommendation for Car Seats?

The American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC’s general recommendations for child safety restraints are as follows:

*Children should always be in the back seat until they are at least 13.

*Kids under two should always be in a rear-facing car seat. They should stay rear-facing as long as their seat permit. Rear-facing is the safest position for car seats.

*After children grow beyond the rear-facing safety seat guidelines, they should be in a forward-facing car seat. However, the car seat should still be in the car’s back seat. 

*Children should be in a forward-facing car seat until they are 5.

*Children should remain in the back seat with a booster after outgrowing the car seat. The booster seat helps the shoulder seat belt fit correctly.

Why Are There Laws about Car Seat Usage?

According to the CDC, child restraint laws and enforcement of those laws are two strategies states can implement to improve usage. Other strategies are the distribution of seats, education programs, and incentives like prizes.

States may enact laws concerning the use and operation of motor vehicles. For example, we also have laws about adult seat belts, cell phone use, and alcohol consumption.

These laws improve safety for others on the road and passengers in the car. Here, public policy supports the protection of children. 

With these laws have come massive public education campaigns to demonstrate the safety benefits of proper child restraints. The laws further motivate adults not to move to protect children in vehicles.

When Can My Child Sit in the Front Seat in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island’s laws permit children to sit in the front seat if they are 8. However, they must also be 56 inches tall and at least 80 pounds. Remember, this is contrary to the AAP guidelines. The AAP recommends that all children under 13 remain in the back seat regardless of height and weight. 

Rhode Island’s laws permit children to sit in the front seat if they are 8. However, they must also be 56 inches tall and weigh at least 80 pounds. Remember, this is contrary to the AAP guidelines. The AAP recommends that all children under 13 remain in the back seat, regardless of height and weight.

What are the Car Seat Laws for Taxis and Rideshares?

Rhode Island’s laws regarding child restraint laws described above apply to private vehicles, taxis, and ride shares equally. In addition, the laws apply to “any person transporting a child.”

What Type of Car Seat Should I Get?

So many car seats are available on the market that choosing just one can be challenging. Of course, it doesn’t help that they are pricey investments, so there is added pressure to get it right the first time.

Check the NHTSA’s visual chart to help you identify which stage your child is in. For example, car seats are generally labeled as infant, convertible, booster, or all-in-one.

Can I Buy or Borrow a Used Car Seat?

Safety experts strongly recommend against the use of previously owned car seats. The concern is that the seat may have already been in an accident. Like helmets, car seats should be replaced after every accident. The internal protections of the seat may have been compromised even if it looks fine on the outside.


To comply with Rhode Island Car Seat Laws, children under eight years old must sit in the back seat, and if they’re eight or younger and don’t meet the height and weight requirements, they need a booster or safety seat. So make sure you know these laws if you drive with kids in Rhode Island.

Alea’s safety recommendations state that to offer the greatest protection in an accident, everyone riding in a car must use a seat belt, and children must be secured in a child restraint device. In addition, drivers should adopt safe driving practices.


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