If you live in Tennessee and plan to drive with children, you must follow all car seat laws. These are in place to keep your child safe and protect them in case of an accident. 

In Tennessee, if your child is younger than one and under 20 pounds, they must face backward. Between the ages of one and two, you may have them forward-facing in a car seat. Four to eight, and under four foot nine inches must be in a booster seat. 

These rules are similar to car seat laws in other states and are intended to keep your child safe. This article will explore the car seat laws in Tennessee in more detail. 

Tennessee Car Seat Safety Law

The car seat safety laws encompass children from birth to ages 15. This helps to protect children of all ages, no matter what vehicle they are in. Some of the laws to remember concerning car seat safety include:

Tennessee Car Seat Laws

In Tennessee, you must use a rear-facing car seat in certain situations. These include when the child is younger than one. If they weigh less than 20 pounds, regardless of age, you should place them in these car seats. 

This includes infants and babies up to the age of one. If your child is smaller, you may consider keeping them in a rear-facing car seat for longer. Even if your child weighs more than 20 pounds, they must stay rear-facing until they turn one. Many parents keep their children rear-facing until two or three so your child will be fine. 

There are several rear-facing car seat options based on the age of your child. You can choose an infant carrier, baby car seat, and convertible seats that face backward. These are the minimum requirements for the rear-facing seat. You may want to keep your child facing backward for as long as they fit. It is not uncommon to see children up to two sittings backward in the car. 

The Forward Facing 

In the state of Tennessee, there are rules for when your child can face forward. The child must be between the ages of one and three. They must also weigh more than 20 pounds.

If your child is two and still under 20 pounds, then you must keep them rear-facing. This helps to keep them safe in case of an accident. 

There are also several rear-facing car seats with higher weight ratings. Some allow up to 35 pounds to face backward while driving. Many parents prefer to wait a little longer before turning their children around. 

Using a Booster Seat

There are special rules for when your child can move to a child booster seat. First, your child must be between four and eight years old. They should also be shorter than four feet nine inches. 

If your child is older than 8, but still under the height limit, they must stay in the booster seat. If the child is under the age of eight, but tall, they still must stay in the booster seat.  Make sure the lap belt sits on the lap of your child. You do not want the belt to lay across their stomachs. This may naturally happen so double check before driving off. 

Tennessee Seat Belt Law 

Tennessee also has laws about using an adult seat belt system. First, the child must be between the ages of nine and 12. Or, they can be taller than four feet nine inches. 

Even if your child reaches the height limit early, you may want to stick with the booster seat. This helps keep them a little secure. If they do not reach it until they are almost eight, you can make a decision on how they must buckle in. 

Tennessee Seat Belt Law 

Using an Adult Safety Belt

The final group includes children using an adult safety belt. These must be used on anyone ages 13 to 15. If possible, the child should stay in the back seat. This is recommended until they turn 17. 

All children under the age of 18 must wear a safety belt. If your vehicle does not have a back seat, the child may sit in the front. If you have younger children and not enough room, the older child may sit in front. Always keep the youngest children in the back of the car. 

Extra Rules to Consider with Car Seats

No matter the age of your child when you drive with them, there are a few rules to follow. These include:

  • All car seats must be in the back seats of the car. The only exception is when a vehicle doesn’t have a back seat, such as in a truck. 
  • You may modify restraints only when medically necessary. You must get a prescription from the physician for this and keep a copy of that prescription on you while driving. 
  • It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure their children are properly restrained. If the parent is in the car, but not driving, the responsibility shifts to them. 
  • Keep any rear-facing car seats away from passenger seats with active airbags. 
  • If your vehicle does not have headrests, use a high-back booster option. 
  • When you use a booster seat, the lap belt must be on the thighs of the child. Do not let the lap belt go to their stomach. 
  • If the seat has a tether strap, you should secure the tether anchor in your vehicle. 
  • You can check the security of the car seat. After installing, try to move the seat around. It should barely move from side-to-side or front-to-back. 

Penalties for not Following Car Seat Regulations

It is important to follow all the rules when it comes to using a car seat. Not only is it the law, but these rules help to keep your child safe. If you violate these requirements in Tennessee, the police officer can pull you over. Many times, these violations result in the levy of a fine for not complying with the law. 

The amount of the fee will depend on the violation and whether violations have happened before. For most violations, the traffic ticket fee in Tennessee is $50.

Types of Car Seats

As your child grows, they will transition through different car seats. Picking the right one will help you better follow the laws in Tennessee. There are rear-facing seats that work well for children less than 20 pounds. Some of the convertible and all-in-one models may go up to higher weights as well. 

Then there are forward-facing car seats. These are designed for children more than 20 pounds and who are allowed to face forward. Booster seats help your child sit up better so the seat belt can keep them safe. They are designed with backs and without based on the age of the child. 

Licensed drivers who are interested in finding the best car seat should always choose the one designed for their child. Read reviews and ratings to find the best one. 


It is important to follow the Tennessee car seat laws. These are designed to keep your child safe and protected on any road. 

Failure to follow these rules will result in fines when pulled over by a police officer. If multiple violations occur, there may be further consequences. Follow all the necessary car seat laws in Tennessee and keep your children safe!


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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