Ohio Car Seat Laws Guide: 2023 Regulations You Need to Know (with Available Resources)

ohio car seat laws

The one and only time I traveled to Ohio, I witnessed a series of pretty nasty car accidents. Throughout my week’s stay in Ohio, I witnessed several more accidents.

With all of the car wrecks I witnessed in such a short period of time, I found myself looking up accident statistics in the state. I was beyond shocked to see there’s an average of 2.8 fatal accidents that happen in the state daily. As a momma, my heart sank when I read these numbers. 

Want an even scarier number? More than 43% of children killed in car accidents aren’t properly restrained in car seats. 

Unfortunately, car seat safety needs to be talked about more. I was shocked at how many people didn’t talk to me about car seat safety when I first had my son. 

 My heart always sinks when I see a baby improperly buckled in their car seat while I’m out on the road. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe in mom-shaming. But, making parents aware of how they can keep their baby safe if they’re ever in a car accident or fender bender isn’t mom shaming.

With a baby or young child, car accidents are no joke. Even more minor accidents can be hazardous for our little kiddos if there isn’t proper usage of child restraints. 

Ohio has a pretty good set of car seat laws to protect children while in a car. These laws establish guidelines for using car seats, booster seats, and seat belts. In case you need clarification on any of the Ohio car seat laws or you’re looking for the official guidelines, I’ve got everything you need here. 

Ohio Car Seat Laws

Ohio Car Seat Laws

Ohio law requires both caregivers and parents to obey car seat safety laws. 

Any babe under 4 and weighing less than 40 pounds, including infants, must use a car seat. If a child reaches the age of 4 but isn’t yet 40 pounds, they are still legally required to wear a car seat. 

Kids between the ages of 4-8 who are no longer required to use a car seat are legally required to use a booster seat. The child is required to use a booster seat until they reach the height of 4 feet 9 inches. 

Any child over the age of 8 and over 4 feet 9 inches tall is required to use seat belts. 

Rear Facing Car Seats in Ohio

Rear Facing Car Seat

In Ohio, the law requires that children under the age of 2 or weighing less than 30 pounds must be fastened in a rear-facing car seat in the back of the vehicle.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids stay in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the max weight or height the car seat manufacturer allows, typically around 40 pounds or 40 inches. This is because rear-facing car seats provide the best protection for a child’s head, neck, and spine in a crash.

I always recommend keeping your baby rear-facing as long as you can. Many parents switch over to forward-facing too soon because they think their kiddo is too tall to face backward.

Unless your child is outside of the recommended limits per the car seat manufacturer’s instructions, keep them rear facing.

If an accident is extreme enough to break your child’s leg when they’re rear-facing, it’s severe enough to break their neck if they’re front facing before they’re ready. I believe fixing a broken leg is better than burying your baby. 

Front Facing Car Seats in Ohio

Front Facing Car Seats

Children over the age of 2 or weighing at least 30 pounds but less than 40 pounds must be secured in a forward-facing car seat in the car’s back seat.

However, I recommend that children remain in a rear-facing car seat for as long as they can be (at least until they age of 3) or until your babe reaches the max weight or height recommended by the car seat manufacturer. 

I believe it’s important to note that Ohio law only establishes a minimum requirement for forward-facing car seats. It’s always best to follow the AAP’s recommendation for the safety of the child. After children outgrow the rear-facing car seat, they should be fastened in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

Booster Seat Law in Ohio

Children weighing 40 to 80 pounds or who are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches must be fastened in a booster seat in the vehicle’s back seat. It’s recommended that children remain in a booster seat until they are big enough to use the vehicle’s seat belts safely, which is typically around 4 feet 9 inches tall and when your babe is between 8 and 12 years old.

Penalties for Violations 

In Ohio, fines for violating car seat laws can range from $25 to $75. The specific penalties for car seat violations depend on the violation and the jurisdiction in which the violation occurs. For example, a first offense for failure to use a car seat or booster can result in a fine of $25. A second offense can result in a fine of $250 and jail time of 30 days. 

Resources to Contact for Car Seat Safety in Ohio and Car Seat Programs Available 

If you’re unable to afford a car seat, don’t worry. I know there are a lot of states out there that don’t offer any sort of programming to help struggling parents, but thankfully, Ohio isn’t one of those states. Several car seat programs in Ohio can help families and caregivers obtain car seats for children who need them. 

Fire and Police Departments

Many local fire and police departments offer car seat inspections and education to families. Contact your local department to find out if they offer this service.

Some fire departments do car seat inspections once in the spring and once in the fall. You can drive the car seats installed up to your fire department, and local firemen will inspect how the car seat’s installed to make sure it’s safe. 

Safe Kids Greater Dayton

Safe Kids Greater Dayton is a coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to preventing childhood injuries. The organization provides car seats and education to families in the Dayton area.

Safe Kids Central Ohio

safe kids central ohio

Safe Kids Central Ohio is a coalition of organizations that works to prevent childhood injuries in the central Ohio area. The organization provides accessible car seats and education on proper installation and use to eligible families.

Ohio Buckles Buckeyes

Ohio Buckles Buckeyes is a state-wide program that provides low-cost car seats to eligible families. The Ohio Department of Health funds the program and it’s by local health departments.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital offers a car seat program that provides free car seats and education to families in the Cincinnati area. The program is funded by the hospital’s Kohl’s Injury Prevention Program.

Akron Children’s Hospital

Akron Children’s Hospital offers a car seat program that provides free car seats and education to families in the Akron area. The program is funded by the hospital’s Safe Kids Summit County program.

If you aren’t able to get in contact with any of the organizations above, don’t give up hope! You should also reach out to your health department or the hospital where you’re delivering your baby to learn more about the car seat programs available in your local area. Some local companies or big box stores donate new car seats to hospitals for parents in need.

Question: Are There Any Exceptions to Ohio’s Car Seat Laws? 

Answer: Yes, there are a few exceptions to Ohio’s car seat laws. Some of these expectations include:
•  A child who has a medical condition that makes it unsafe to use a car seat, such as a spinal condition, may be exempt from car seat requirements. However, a written statement from a physician is required.
• In an emergency situation, such as a sudden illness or unexpected circumstances, a child may be transported without a car seat or booster seat.
• Ohio law doesn’t require car seats or booster seats for kids traveling in taxis or public transportation. However, I still highly recommend you use a car or booster seat whenever possible. It’s better safe than sorry.

Question: Can a Seven-Year-Old sit in the Front Seat in Ohio?

Answer: No, a seven-year-old shouldn’t sit up front with you in the front seat. In Ohio, children under the age of eight need to be in a car seat or booster seat in the back of your car. While there aren’t any direct laws about the front seat, I wouldn’t recommend you risk your child’s safety. Plus, most car seat manufacturers recommend children sit in the back of the car until they’re 13 years old. This is because the front seat is not as safe for children as the back seat, and airbags can cause serious injury or even death in a crash. I wouldn’t risk it. 

Question: What is the Weight and Age for a Booster Seat in Ohio? 

Answer: Once your babe reaches four years old and weighs over 40 pounds, you can switch them into a booster seat! You’ll have to keep your little one in a booster seat until they’re at least eight years old and 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Understanding The Ohio Car Seat Laws

While nobody likes to be told what to do with their children, the Ohio car seat laws are in place for good reason. These laws are in place to protect your children from possible catastrophic consequences.

But there’s a lot more that goes into making sure your little one stays safe while they’re in your car. Choosing the right car seat based on the child’s age, height, and weight, as well as making sure that it’s installed (and used correctly), can do a lot for preventing injuries and fatalities in a car accident.

As a concerned mom, follow these laws. They’ll keep your baby safe. 

For more car seat laws check out the following guides:

Texas Car Seat Laws Guide

• Florida Car Seat Laws Guide

• California Car Seat Laws Guide