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Personal Injury

What Are the Rhode Island Car Seat Laws?

June 25, 2018

Updated: June 20, 2024

Rhode Island car seat laws car accident

Rhode Island car seat laws are outlined in Rhode Island General Law § 31-22-22, and encompass child restraint and child passenger safety requirements.  The law has a lot of detail and is an important read for anyone who transports children in a motor vehicle.  Here are a few points to get you started in understanding the law:

  • Rear-facing seats and rear-facing only seats. These restraints are used for infants. The statute states that all infants and toddlers under the age of 2 years old or weighing less than 30 pounds “shall be restrained in a rear-facing car seat.”
  • Forward-facing child safety seats. For children over the age of 2 years old or who have outgrown their rear-facing car seat either by height or weight are to use a forward-facing car seat with a harness up to the maximum allowed by the child restraint manufacturer.
  • Shoulder restraint/harness. If a child is under 8 years old but is at least 57 inches tall or 80 pounds, they must wear a safety belt and/or shoulder harness in “any rear seating position in the motor vehicle.” According to the statute, a rear seating position is considered “any seat position located behind the driver and front seat passenger.”

Rhode Island car seat laws set the minimum standard for car seats.  Children come in all shapes and sizes.  It is a good idea to speak with your child’s pediatrician to see if they have additional recommendations for your child.  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration also provides car seat guidance.

If you are not sure if you installed your child’s car seat property, most Rhode Island police departments will provide a free child safety seat check if you call the department’s main line and schedule an appointment.


What Happens If I Violate the Law?

Rhode Island does penalize drivers and parents who violate RIGL §31-22-22.  If a parent transports a child not in a child restraint system, they are required to appear in court in violation of the state’s law. If a parent violates a child restraint law when the child is over 8 years old, they will be fined $85.


Child Injury in Car Accidents

Car accidents can result in devastating injuries for children, especially if they are not properly restrained. When a child is restrained in a rear-facing car seat, the force of a crash is more evenly distributed over the child’s head, neck and spine, and can prevent more serious injuries than if they were in a front-facing car seat.

In all cases where you are using a car seat to restrain your child, be aware that car seats do have expiration dates. This is because car seat regulations and safety standards can change, and it is important to keep up with the latest standards to best ensure the safety of your child.


If you and your child was injured in a car accident in Rhode Island, you may be entitled to compensation and our office may be able to help recover those damages. Call our office today at 844-567-1185 for a free consultation.