What Law Governs Sitting in the Front Seat?

In the United States, the laws concerning riding in the front seat of cars are collectively referred to as child passenger safety laws. The federal government recommends all states to have laws restricting the ability of minors to ride in the front seat, but states have the authority to establish their own rules. In many locations, children are ineligible to ride in the front seat of a car until they reach a certain age, height or weight.

Restrictions for child passengers are implemented for various stages of childhood, and many concern the safe transportation of infants in car seats. Restrictions and regulations for car seats may exist in three categories. Some laws govern the use of rear-facing infant seats while others cover infants placed in forward-facing child seats or children riding in booster seats. Among these categories, some regulations are more widespread than others.

In all 50 states, for instance, parents must use child safety seats for all infants and young children who meet certain criteria for age, height and weight. Most states, with the exception of Florida and South Dakota, require children to use booster seats when they are too large for car seats yet cannot yet safely use adult belts. Penalties for failure to abide by state laws often result in fines and issue of driver’s license points.