Montana Car Seat Laws

Current as of March 2024

Montana Car Seat Laws: What Every Parent Needs to Know

As a parent in Montana, keeping your child safe in the car is always a 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.

Montana Car Seat Requirements by Age and Size

Montana law requires all children under 6 years old and less than 60 pounds to be properly secured in a child safety restraint. The specific type of seat depends on your child's age and size:

  • Infants and Toddlers (under 2 years): Should ride in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible, until they reach the seat's height or weight limit.
  • Toddlers and Preschoolers (2-4 years): Can use a forward-facing seat with a harness once they outgrow the rear-facing seat.
  • School-Aged Kids (4-6 years, under 60 lbs): Should use a booster seat until they can fit properly in a seat belt.
  • Older Kids (6+ years and 60+ lbs): Can use a seat belt if it fits correctly across the lap and shoulder.

Remember, kids are always safest in the back seat until at least age 13. By following these guidelines, you significantly reduce the risk of serious injury or death for your child if a crash occurs.

Installing Your Car Seat Right: Tips and Tricks

Choosing the right car seat is crucial, but proper installation is just as key. Always follow these steps:

  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 lower anchors. 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.

Montana offers free car seat checks at various locations, 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 Montana Car Seat Laws

In Montana, police can pull you over and issue a ticket if they see a child passenger who is not properly secured. The fine is $20 - but the real cost is the risk 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 Montana Car Seat FAQs, Answered

Still have questions about keeping your kids safe on Montana roads? We've got answers:

Q: What if my child is over 6 but under 60 lbs?

A: Keep them in a car seat or booster until they reach 60 lbs, even past age 6. It's all about size, not just age, when it comes to car seat safety.

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

A: Montana allows very few exceptions to the car seat law, like in certain public transit vehicles. If a proper restraint is available, you must use it for kids under 6 and 60 lbs. Better safe than sorry!

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

A: Montana has many car seat inspection stations where certified technicians can check your installation and offer expert advice. Many fire/police stations, hospitals, and health departments also offer this service.

The bottom line for Montana parents is simple: always properly secure your child under 6 and 60 lbs in the right car seat, 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.