Is a 7-Year-Old Allowed to Sit in the Front Seat of a Car?

In most states, 7-year-old children are permitted to sit in the front seat of a car provided they are in a child or booster seat; however, in California, Georgia, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Wyoming and Washington, a 7-year-old is only allowed to sit in the front seat if the back seat is unavailable or, in Washington's case, impractical. Despite the varying state regulations, it is recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all children aged 12 or less are seated in the back seat of a car, which is a recommendation that is law in Puerto Rico. This is because passenger seat airbags pose the risk of death to young children.

For the same reason, rear-facing seats should never be placed in a front passenger seat equipped with an airbag. In Vermont and Virginia, this is a legal requirement unless the passenger seat airbag has been deactivated.

The laws forbidding a 7-year-old from sitting in the front of a car vary somewhat in their scope. In Tennessee and Wyoming, the law extends to 8-year-old children as well. In Washington, it extends to any child age 13 or less.