Louisiana Car Seat Laws

Current as of March 2024

Louisiana Car Seat Laws: What Every Parent Must Know

As a Louisiana parent, keeping your child safe in the car is always top priority. Following the state's car seat laws is not only legally required, but also one of the best ways to protect your little ones on the road. We've broken down the key points you need to know to ensure you're using the right car seat correctly every time you buckle up.

Louisiana Car Seat Requirements by Age and Size

Louisiana law requires all children under 13 to be properly restrained in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt. The specific type depends on your child's age, height, and weight:

  • Infants and Toddlers (under 2 years): Must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the seat's height or weight limit.
  • Preschoolers (2-4 years): Should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they outgrow it.
  • School-Aged Kids (4-9 years): Must use a booster seat until they can fit properly in a seat belt (usually 4'9" tall).
  • Preteens (9-12 years): Should use a seat belt, but are safest in the back seat.

Remember, all kids under 13 should ride in the back seat for maximum safety. Following these guidelines significantly reduces the risk of serious injury or death in a crash.

Installing Your Car Seat Right: Tips and Tricks

Choosing the right car seat is just the first step. To truly keep your child safe, the seat must be installed and used correctly every time. Always follow these key points:

  1. Read your car seat and vehicle manuals thoroughly.
  2. Place the seat in the back, facing the correct direction for your child's age/size.
  3. Secure the seat tightly with either the seat belt or LATCH system. It should not move more than 1 inch side-to-side or front-to-back when pulled at the belt path.
  4. Adjust the harness snugly against your child's body, with the chest clip at armpit level.
  5. For rear-facing seats, ensure the correct recline angle so your child's head does not flop forward.

Louisiana offers free car seat checks at fitting stations statewide, where certified technicians can inspect your installation and offer guidance. It's a quick, easy way to double check your work and ensure your child's safety.

Penalties for Breaking Louisiana Car Seat Laws

In Louisiana, police can pull you over and issue a ticket if they see a child passenger who is not properly secured. Fines start at $100 and can go up to $500 for subsequent offenses - but the real cost is the danger to your child's life.

Car crashes are a leading cause of death for kids. Using the right car seat can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. So while it may be tempting to let them ride without the proper restraint, it's never worth the potential price.

Your Louisiana Car Seat FAQs, Answered

Still have questions about keeping your kids safe on Louisiana roads? We've got you covered:

Q: What if my child is over 9 but still too small for a seat belt?

A: Keep them in a booster until the belt fits right, even past age 9. The lap belt should lie across the upper thighs (not stomach) and shoulder belt across the chest (not neck).

Q: Are there any times my child can legally ride without a car seat?

A: Louisiana allows very few exceptions, like in emergency vehicles or classic cars with no belts. If a proper restraint is available, you must use it. Don't risk it!

Q: Where can I go for help with car seat installation?

A: Louisiana has many free car seat fitting stations where certified technicians can check your installation and offer expert advice. Many fire/police stations and hospitals also offer this service.

The bottom line for Louisiana parents is simple: always properly secure your child in the right car seat, booster, or belt for their age and size, installed correctly every single ride. By following the state's laws and best practice recommendations, you're giving your kid the best chance of coming home safe from every trip. And that's what matters most.