Car Seat Laws and Booster Seat Requirements in Indiana

Two little boys sitting on a car seat and a booster seat buckled up in the car.

In Indiana, children under the age of 8 must be properly secured in an approved child safety seat or booster seat appropriate for their age and size. From ages 8 to 16, they must use an approved child restraint system or seat belt. All children aged 12 and younger should ride in the vehicle’s back seat when one is available.


As a parent or caregiver, you want to keep your child safe whenever they ride in a car. Understanding and following Indiana’s car seat laws and booster seat requirements helps ensure your child is fully protected during every trip.

What Are Indiana’s Car Seat Laws?

Indiana’s car seat laws are designed to protect children based on their age and size and the manufacturer’s instructions. Here’s a breakdown of the requirements:

  • Children under 8 must use an approved car or booster seat and be fastened and restrained according to the seat’s manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Children aged 8 to 16 must use an approved child restraint system or seat belt.
  • Children who weigh more than 40 pounds may use a lap belt if the vehicle doesn’t have shoulder belts or if all other shoulder and lap belts are being used by other children under 16.

It’s important to note that these are minimum requirements. Experts recommend keeping your child in each car seat or booster seat stage for as long as possible to provide the best protection.

When Can My Child Use a Seat Belt?

According to Indiana law, children 8 years and older can transition to using an adult seat belt. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the seat belt fits your child properly before making this change. A properly fitting seat belt should:

  • Lie across the upper thighs, not the stomach
  • Fit snugly across the shoulder and chest, not crossing the neck or face

If the seat belt doesn’t fit your child correctly, continue using a booster seat until they reach the appropriate size for seat belt use.

rideshare driver

How Do Indiana’s Car Seat Laws Apply to Taxis and Rideshares?

Indiana’s car seat laws apply in all vehicles, including taxis and rideshares like Uber and Lyft. When using these services with your child, you are responsible for providing and installing an appropriate car or booster seat. Most rideshare companies allow drivers to decline a ride if the parent doesn’t have a proper car seat for their child.

To ensure a smooth and safe ride, always bring your child’s car or booster seat when using a taxi or rideshare service and install it correctly before starting your trip.

Are There Penalties If I Am Caught Driving While My Child Is Not in Their Car Seat?

Failing to properly secure your child in a car seat or booster seat can result in penalties. In Indiana, violating car seat laws is considered a primary offense, meaning a police officer can pull you over and issue a citation solely for this reason. The penalty for a first offense is a fine of up to $25. Subsequent offenses may result in higher fines.

More importantly, not securing your child in an appropriate car seat or booster seat puts them at risk of serious injury or death in the event of a crash. Always prioritize your child’s safety by following Indiana’s car seat laws.

How Do I Safely Use a Car Seat?

To ensure your child’s car seat is providing maximum protection, follow these safety tips:

  • Choose the right car seat – There are three main types of car seats: rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seats. Make sure to select the appropriate type based on your child’s age, height, and weight.
  • Be careful when installing – Install the car seat correctly, following the manufacturer’s instructions and your vehicle’s manual. Every car seat is different, so it’s essential to read the manual carefully and ensure a proper fit in your vehicle. Many car seats can be installed using the vehicle’s seat belt or the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system.
  • Pay attention to positioning – Place the car seat in the appropriate position based on your child’s age and size. Remember, it’s best to keep your child in each stage for as long as possible before transitioning to the next.
  • Use the harness or seat belt – Secure your child in the car seat with the harness or seat belt, ensuring a snug fit. The harness straps should lie flat and be adjusted to the proper height for your child. The chest clip should be positioned at armpit level.
  • Know when to replace it – Replace your child’s car seat if it has been involved in a moderate to severe crash, even if there is no visible damage. The seat may have weakened and won’t provide enough protection in a future crash. Also, be sure to check the car seat’s expiration date and replace it when necessary, as materials can degrade over time.
  • Wear your seat belt – Set a good example by always wearing your own seat belt. Children are more likely to adopt safe habits when they see their parents and caregivers consistently buckling up.

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute also provides helpful guides and additional information regarding car seat safety. By following these guidelines and staying informed about Indiana’s car seat laws, you can help keep your child safe during every car ride.

Contact an Indiana Car Accident Lawyer

If you or your child have been injured in a car wreck in Indiana, it’s essential to seek help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a compassionate Indiana car accident attorney at Truitt Law Offices. We understand the physical, emotional, and financial challenges you may be facing after a crash and will fight for the compensation you deserve. Our team is here to help you through the entire legal process. Call or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.

Visit Our Indiana Car Accident Law Offices

attorney image

About the Author

As an attorney who has practiced law in Northeast Indiana for nearly four decades, Richard Truitt has seen many changes in the way personal injury and wrongful death cases are handled. However, at least one aspect of his work has remained the same. “You always have to listen to your clients, and you have…