Vermont has car seat laws in place to keep children safe while riding in a motor vehicle. Residents of the state and visitors alike must follow these laws. The laws are broken down by child age and size.  

If you do not follow Vermont’s car seat laws you could be subject to serious consequences. Additionally, following the laws help to ensure your child’s safety while traveling. In this article, we covered Vermont car seat laws by age categories and weight and height limits (described below). 

Infants under 1 must use a rear-facing child seat. Children under 8 must use an approved child restraint. Children ages 8-16 must use an approved child restraint or seatbelt system. Vermont’s Department of Motor Vehicles details the law here.

Vermont Car Seat Safety Law

Vermont law states that children from birth through 8 years old must use some form of child restraint. Children 8 through 18 must use a child restraint or the vehicle’s seat belt system. The above law is broken down by age and size categories. 

Vermont car seat laws

How old do you have to be to sit in the front seat in Vermont?

According to Vermont car seat laws, children can ride in the front seat if they are 13 years old or older.  Any children younger than that must ride in the back seat. 

Rear-Facing Car Seat Law

All infants under one and less than 20 pounds must use a rear-facing approved child seat. All rear-facing seats must not be placed in front of an active airbag. vt car seat law recommends rear-facing until at least 2 years old. The longer the better. 

Forward-Facing Car Seat Law

Children under the age of 8 and over 1 year or more than 20 pounds must use a child restraint. An approved forward-facing child seat qualifies, as do convertible seats. 

Child Booster Seat Law

Children under the age of 8 and over 1 year or more than 20 pounds must use a child restraint. An approved booster seat qualifies. 

The Five-Step Booster Test

To determine if your child is ready to be out of a booster seat, Vermont’s Seat Smart Program recommends the 5 step test. 

  1. Does your child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat? 
  2. Does the lap belt fall below the stomach and touch the thighs?
  3. Is the shoulder belt centered on the chest and shoulder?
  4. Can your child place their feet on the floor with their knees bent over the seat edge? 
  5. Can your child comfortably sit this way for the entire ride? 

Your child may fail this test in one vehicle but pass it in another. If you answer “no” to any of these questions, your child is not ready to forgo their booster seat. 

Lap-Shoulder Seat Belt Law

Children aged 8-18 must use a safety belt system if they are not using an approved child restraint. The law recommends that children stay in a booster seat until the seat belt fits properly.

Vermont’s Four Stages of Seat Safety

To help parents determine safety seat readiness, Vermont has devised the following car seat stages

  1. Infants and young toddlers should use a rear-facing seat installed in the vehicle’s back seat. This is until they reach the seat height and weight limits. 
  2. Children may ride in a forward-facing seat installed in the back seat until they reach the height and weight limits. 
  3. Children should ride in a booster seat in the back seat until the vehicle’s seat belt system fits properly. 
  4. When children outgrow the booster they should sit in the back seat and must use the seatbelt system. 

Vermont Car Seat Law for Taxi/Uber

The only vehicles exempt from Vermont’s child safety seat laws are type I school buses. Therefore, when traveling in a hired vehicle your child must have the appropriate seat or restraint. 

Accident Replacement Guidelines

Vermont does not have any laws mandating you must replace your child safety seat after an accident. The NHTSA recommends car seats are replaced after every accident, regardless of the presence of visible damage. Additionally, most car seats have a lifespan of 6 years. After 6 years the seat should be replaced. 

Leaving a Child in a Car

Surprisingly, there are currently no laws in the state regarding leaving a child in the car unattended. 

Smoking in a Car with a Child 

In the state of Vermont, it is illegal to smoke in a vehicle with a child. 

What Happens If I Don’t Follow the Law? 

Vermont issues fines to individuals not following car seat laws. They are: 

  • 1st offense: $25.00
  • 2nd offense: $50.00
  • 3rd offense: $100.00

Violations do not result in points on your license. 

Looking for Help? 

The state of Vermont has many fitting stations where a Nationally Certified CPS (Child Passenger Safety) Technician can check your car seat and installation for free. They can also provide information and instruction on child safety. You can find a location here

Final Thoughts

Vermont has four stages of seat safety laws. They are rear-facing, forward-facing, booster, and seatbelt. These laws help to keep your child safe in a vehicle as they grow and age. Knowing which restraint your child should be using is key. 

Though Vermont does not have any laws specifying when a child can ride in the front seat, 13 is recommended. Regardless of where they are sitting in a car, all children should always be buckled.  

Avatar of 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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