Car Seat Laws

Rhode Island Car Seat Laws [Safety Regulations & Fines]

Rhode Island implements many car seat laws to protect children’s lives. If you live in Rhode Island and you want to drive with your children in the car, then you must abide by all of Rhode Island’s car seat laws. Rhode Island’s car seat laws exist to keep your children safe and protect them if an accident happens. 

In Rhode Island, children under two years old, or that weight less than thirty pounds, must use a rear-facing car seat. Children under eight years old must use a proper child safety system in the car’s back seat. When a child weighs over eighty pounds or is taller than fifty-seven inches, then the child can use a seatbelt in the back of a car. 

The car seat laws in Rhode Island resemble similar car seat laws in other states. The laws are in place to keep your child safe. This article will explore the car seat laws in Rhode Island in more detail. 

Rhode Island Car Seat Safety Law

In Rhode Island, the car seat safety law encompasses children from birth until they weight eight pounds, or are taller than fifty-seven inches. Even after that, children are still required to use a seatbelt and sit in the back of the car.

These car seat laws exist to protect children of all ages, no matter what car their parents use. The most important laws concerning car seat safety in Rhode Island include:

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, regardless of age, then they should be placed in one of these car seats.

That includes infants and babies that are up to two years old. If your child is smaller, then you may want to keep him or her in a rear-facing car seat for 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

Several rear-facing car seat choices exist that will fit the age of your child. You can pick a few different car seats, like

  • An infant carrier
  • A baby car seat
  • A convertible car seat that faces backward

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

Forward Facing Car Seat

In the state of Rhode Island, there are rules for when your child can use a forward-facing car seat. Your child must be two years old and weigh more than twenty pounds to use a forward-facing car seat in Rhode Island. 

If your child is two and is still below twenty pounds, then you must keep him or her in a rear-facing car seat. That way, he or she will be safer in case of an accident.

There are several rear-facing car seats available for purchase that have higher weight ratings. Some of those car seats allow the child to weigh up to thirty-five pounds and still face backward while driving. So, if you want to wait before turning your child around, that’s fine. 

Using a Booster Seat

There are special rules in place in Rhode Island dictating when your child can use a booster seat. When your child is over two years old and weighs more than twenty pounds, then he or she can use a booster seat or a child safety restraint system in the vehicle’s rear seat. This law applies to all children under eight years old. 

When your child is fifty-seven inches tall or weighs over eighty pounds, then he or she is no longer mandated to utilize a child safety restraint system. However, the child still must sit in the car’s rear seats. Children can only sit in the front seat if other younger children take up the rear seats, or if the car doesn’t include rear seats. 

When you use your booster seat, make sure the lap belt sits over your child’s lap. You want to make sure you do not lay the belt across his or her stomach. 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 Seat Belt Law

Rhode Island also has laws about using seatbelts. In Rhode Island, it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure everybody riding in the car is using a seatbelt.

If a person is caught not wearing his or her seatbelt, the driver will be fined $40 as well as additional court costs. If a driver only has a learner’s permit, then he or she can have other penalties imposed upon him or her, including license advancement displays because of a seatbelt violation. 

There are some exceptions when it comes to Rhode Island’s seat belt law. Particular people and vehicles can be exempt from these seat belt laws. Postal carriers and vehicles made before 1966 are exempt from these laws. Also, people that are medically unable to wear a seatbelt can be exempt. However, a person must carry a certification from a physician documenting the medical issue. 

Rhode Island Seat Belt Law 

The last group of children we need to cover are those that use an adult safety belt. In Rhode Island, once a child is over eighty pounds and taller than fifty-seven inches, then he or she can sit in the back seat and use a seat belt. It is recommended that your child sit in the back seat and use a seat belt until he or she is seventeen years old. 

If your vehicle does not have a back seat or is occupied by other, younger children, then your older child may sit in the front using a seat belt. Remember, you should always keep your youngest child in the back seat of your car. 

Penalties for Not Following Rhode Island Car Seat Laws

If you receive a child restraint violation in Rhode Island, you will be fined $85, and you’ll also need to pay court costs. However, if the driver can purchase an appropriate car seat within seven days of the violation, then the judge will dismiss the citation. 

If you don’t take care of the matter, you will have to appear in front of a judge. That’s because not using a child restraint seat in Rhode Island is considered child endangerment. 

What Do You Need To Know About Car Seats?

Remember, in Rhode Island, if you do not follow the child restraint safety seat laws, you’ll wind up being fined, having to pay court costs, and you’ll also have to appear before a judge.

Not knowing how to install a car seat properly won’t be an adequate excuse, either. If you don’t know how to install your car seat, you aren’t alone. However, there are resources you can use for assistance. 

If you aren’t sure how to install your safety seat, all local Rhode Island police stations allow parents to stop by anytime so that a police officer can help them install the safety seat. So, you can get educated for free by the police at any time. 

Remember, no car seat that has been involved in an accident previously is still safe for use. Also, car seats that were made more than six years ago are not safe. Never purchase a car seat that is missing the safety information and instructions, either. 


You need to follow the car seat safety laws in Rhode Island. These laws exists to keep your child safe while you are driving on the road. If you don’t follow these rules, you’ll wind up with fines and court costs. So, make sure you follow the car seat laws in Rhode Island and protect your child. 

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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