Louisiana Car Seat Laws

November 2, 2016

This blog was updated in January 2021.

Car accidents are the leading cause of death among children under the age of 12.  As parents, we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect our families. The best way to prevent injury and death in car accidents is by placing children in the proper child seat for their age and size, and not allowing children to ride in the front seat before they are old enough that it’s safe to do so.

This can be challenging with all of the different information and options that are now available. Fortunately, Louisiana has set forth laws that provide specific safety requirement guidelines for parents. These laws were last updated in August of 2019, so if you’ve recently welcomed a new child into your family, these rules may have changed from when you last checked.

We hope the following information about child car seat laws in Louisiana will help you better understand and choose the best restraint for your child. However, please note that while this is the law, these are only the minimum safety requirements.

Car Seat Requirements by Louisiana Law

Please note: the old requirements are only listed here to highlight what changed before and after the August 2019 update to Louisiana car seat laws. Please refer only to the new requirements when determining what car seat your child needs.

  • NEW Requirements: All children under the age of 2 are required to ride in rear-facing car seats. Furthermore, infant car seats should always be placed in the rear seat, never the front seat, which places infants at risk of airbag injuries.
    • OLD Requirements: Infants age birth to at least one year OR Less than 20 pounds are required to ride in rear-facing infant or convertible car seat.
  • NEW Requirements: All children age two to four must ride in forward facing seats with an internal seat belt.
    • OLD Requirements: Children age 1 to 4 OR between 20 and 40 pounds are required to ride forward-facing in a convertible or combination seat (used with the internal harness).
  • NEW Requirements: All children age 4 to 9 must ride in booster seats.
    • OLD Requirements: Children age 4 to 6 AND between 40 and 60 pounds are required to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat (backless or high-backed). Children age 6 and up AND more than 60 pounds should sit in the backseat using the vehicle lap-shoulder belt or a belt-positioning booster seat.
  • NEW Requirements: Children age 13 and under must ride in the rear seat.
    • OLD Requirements: Children age 12 and under must ride in the rear seat.

Why Are These Laws Important?

Failure to comply with these requirements can have harsh legal consequences as well. If you’re convicted of a child safety seat offense, you have the possibility of being ticketed and fined, with your fine amounts increasing for subsequent violations.

Drivers who have been convicted of breaking a child safety seat law must provide the state with a Child Restraint Affidavit proving that they have acquired the appropriate child safety seat. Drivers have 30 days to submit the affidavit before the DPS will suspend said driver’s license until they have provided a notarized affidavit showing they obtained the appropriate child restraint.

However, it is also important to follow these laws for your child’s safety, especially the law about keeping children in the backseat until they are over the age of 13. Front passenger seat airbags are designed with adults in mind. They are positioned to deploy at chest level on an adult, but when children are seated in the front seat, the airbags can open at head level and can cause serious and even fatal injuries, including skull fractures and broken necks.

Are There Exceptions to the Car Seat Law?

Yes, there is one major exception, and that’s if you are traveling in a taxi. Taxi drivers are not required to provide car seats for their passengers, and passengers are not required to bring one. However, we always recommend bringing your own car seat or booster seat if are planning to take a trip in a taxi with a child under the age of 13 for their safety.

What Other Laws About Driving With Children in the Car Apply in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, it is illegal to leave children unattended in a vehicle, and violating this law could result in fines and even jail time. It is also illegal to smoke in a vehicle with children inside. Violating this law could result in fines and community service.

If you have any questions regarding the correct safety seat for your child or about proper installation, visit one of the Louisiana Child Passenger Fitting Stations or the NHTSA Child Car Seat Inspection Stations. And always stay up to date or sign up for notifications about car seat recalls.

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