Indiana Car Seat Laws 2023 (Rear, Forward & Booster)
Indiana car seat laws require all children under the age of 8 years to be secured in a child restraint or booster seat.
Violating the law is a class D infraction the penalty for which can go up to $25. Children who are physically unable to use a child restraint or seat belt are exempt.
Disclaimer: This content does not constitute legal advice. It is solely for informational purposes. Always check the original source of the law for the latest version.
- Front Seat
- Seat Belt
- Taxi Seat
- Ridesharing Seat
- Alone in Car
- Choosing a Seat
- Installation Help
Indiana Car Seat Laws
Indiana Rear-Facing Car Seat Law
There is no definite rear-facing car seat law in Indiana. Under Indiana car seat regulations, a child under the age of 8 years must be secured in a child restraint. (1)
In the absence of an Indiana rear-facing child seat law, you can follow the recommendations of the Indiana State Police (ISP). Troopers recommend that a child under the age of 1 year and weighing less than 20 pounds must be secured in a rear-facing seat. (2)
Though the rear-facing car seat age in Indiana is absent, the ISP recommends that an infant should continue riding in their rear-facing seat till they reach its maximum weight or height limit set by the manufacturer.
Violation of the law constitutes a class D infraction. The operator of the motor vehicle will be fined up to $25. (3)
Age: Under 8 years (Recommended: Newborn to 1 year)
Penalty: Up to $25
Indiana Forward-Facing Car Seat Law
The forward-facing car seat law in Indiana is absent. As per Indiana child seat laws, children under the age of 8 years have to be restrained in an appropriate car seat. (1)
Because there is no Indiana forward-facing child seat law, a definite forward-facing car seat age in Indiana is also absent. However, the ISP recommends keeping your child in a forward-facing seat if they are at least 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds. (2)
The best practice is to keep them in a forward-facing seat with a harness till they reach the maximum weight or height limits of the seat.
The motor vehicle operator will be held responsible for violating the law. It is a class D infraction and carries a penalty of up to $25. (3) Children who have a physical or medical condition duly certified by a physician are exempt.
Age: Less than 8 years
Penalty: Up to $25
Indiana Booster Seat Law
There is no child booster seat law in Indiana but a general law.
Indiana state law mandates that children less than 8 years old have to be restrained in a car seat. (1)
If your child has outgrown the height or weight limits of their forward-facing seat, they can shift to a booster seat. Depending on your requirements, you can choose a high back or backless booster seat
The booster seat age in Indiana is not mentioned. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping children in a booster seat till the seat belt fits them properly. This typically happens when they are between 8 to 12 years old.
Indiana booster seat requirements do not apply to those kids who have a physical or medical condition. Failure to use a booster seat is a class D infraction and carries a fine of up to $25. (3)
Age: Less than 8 years
Penalty: Up to $25
Indiana Child Front Seat Law
There is no express child front seat law in Indiana. However, the AAP recommends for children to sit in the backseat till they are 13 years old. This is because the rear seat is the safest for kids.
If unavoidable, the child can ride in the front seat in a child restraint that is appropriate for their height and weight. Failure to use a car seat will attract a penalty of up to $25. (3) The vehicle seat should be pushed far from the dashboard. In case of a rear-facing seat, the front seat airbag must be deactivated.
Though the front seat age in Indiana is unclear, a child older than 8 years can wear a regular seat belt. Hence, if the child meets these requirements, they can sit in the front seat with a seat belt.
Age: 13+ years (recommended)
Indiana Child Seat Belt Law
According to the child seat belt law in Indiana, a child who is at least 8 years but less than 16 years old has to wear an adult safety belt. (4) This applies whether they are in the backseat or the front seat.
The requirements of this provision are met when the seat belt properly fits across the chest and thighs of the child. Seat belt rules in Indiana do not apply to children who are unable to wear a seat belt due to a physical or medical condition. The condition must be certified by a physician, physician’s assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse.
Violating Indiana children’s seat belt law entails a fine of up to $25. The motor vehicle operator will be responsible if the child is not wearing a seat belt.
Age: 8 to 16 years
Penalty: Up to $25
Indiana Taxi Child Seat Law
According to the taxi child seat law in Indiana, taxis are not required to have a child passenger safety system in place. They are explicitly excluded from the law. (5)
Since the taxi driver is not responsible for providing a taxi child seat in Indiana, it is best if you arrange an appropriate car seat before traveling with your child in a taxi. According to the car seat laws in Indiana, you have to use a car seat as per the manufacturer’s instructions. You can choose a rear-facing, forward-facing, or a booster car seat.
When installing the car seat in a taxi, you must ensure that it is securely fixed. You can even take the driver’s assistance to correctly install it.
Indiana Ridesharing Child Seat Law
There is no clear ridesharing child seat law in Indiana.
Under the child seat requirements in Indiana, all children under the age of 8 years have to be restrained in an appropriate car seat. (1) Only those who are unable to use a car seat due to physical or medical reasons are exempt. There is no mention of ridesharing services such as Uber or Lyft.
However, the law places the responsibility on the motor vehicle operator. It may hold the parent or driver or both liable. The best option in this case is for either the driver or the parents/caregivers to provide a child seat. Based on the child’s age, it can be a rear-facing, forward-facing car seat or booster seat.
Check with the driver if they have a car seat or carry your own.
Indiana Child Seat Replacement Law
There is no definite child seat replacement law in Indiana. However, you must replace your child safety seat if it is involved in an accident or has expired.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends child seat replacement after an accident, especially after a moderate or severe crash. The car seat may have defects that are not easily visible.
In case of a low impact accident, there is no urgent need to replace the car seat. A low impact crash is where no passenger is injured, the door nearest to the car seat is not damaged and the seat itself shows no visible damage.
Apart from replacing the car seat after an accident in Indiana, you must also replace it after it has expired or has been recalled. Check the manufacturer’s website or car seat sticker for more information.
Leaving Child in the Car in Indiana
There is currently no law on leaving a child in a vehicle in Indiana. However, the act of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle is dangerous. The most prominent danger is the child suffering from a heat stroke.
Children’s bodies heat up more quickly than adults. Small children do not self-regulate their body temperature and when their temperature rises, their vital organs start experiencing distress. Thus, they are at a greater risk.
Children can also have an in-car accident, set the car in motion if it is running, or be kidnapped.
Even though leaving a child in the car in Indiana is technically not illegal, you should be very careful. A child must not be left in the car, even for a minute. You can be charged under stricter sections such as child endangerment or neglect.
Choosing a Child Car Seat in Indiana
When choosing a car seat in Indiana, you can refer to the NHTSA recommendations to find the best child seat.
For infants under 2 years old, an infant rear-facing car seat is the best car seat to use in Indiana. It protects their fragile body from impact when traveling. They can then move to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether.
After they outgrow the forward-facing seats, they should use booster seats. It can be a high back or backless seat. The best booster seat to use in Indiana is one which raises the child to allow the seat belt to fit across their lap and shoulders.
Car Seat Installation Help in Indiana
Child passenger safety seats in Indiana must be installed as per the manufacturer’s instructions. It may seem a complex task and many parents end up installing their car seats incorrectly.
To help you with it, there are different stations with certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technicians. They help you with installation and as well as inspection of your car seats. You can also learn more about child passenger safety. Some of these stations are:
- Indiana University School of Medicine inspection station
- Fishers Police Department Car Seat Program
- Franciscan Health
- Zionsville Police Department
- Noblesville Police Department
- Hancock Health Car Seat Program
- Valparaiso Fire Department
Indiana Car Seat Safety Resources
- Indiana Criminal Justice Institute: Besides providing information on the significance of car seats, it conducts education activities to promote child passenger safety. It also funds fitting stations and offers training for CPS technicians
- Johnson County, Indiana: The county’s official website has a host of resources for car seat safety. These include Indiana law, tips on using rear-facing seats, using tethers for toddlers and general safety tips.
- Buckle Up: Restraint Use in Indiana: The CDC’s fact sheet on Indiana provides data on child passenger safety in the state. It also explains the law and contains strategies to encourage the use of car seats.
How long should a child ride in a rear-facing car seat in Indiana?
There is no specific age in the law. But a child should ride in a rear-facing car seat till they exceed its height and weight limits.
Can you put a rear-facing car seat in the front seat in Indiana?
It is not illegal to put a rear-facing seat in the front seat in Indiana. However, it is not safe. If you do put it in front, ensure that the front seat airbag is deactivated.
Can you put a rear-facing car seat in the middle rear seat in Indiana?
You can put a rear-facing car seat in the middle rear seat but it must fit properly. Check the car seat as well as your vehicle’s manuals.
When can a baby face forward in a car seat in Indiana?
The law is silent. But a child can face forward after they outgrow the maximum height or weight limits of their rear-facing seat as set by the manufacturer.
How old for a booster seat in Indiana?
There is no clear age under the law. But children who have outgrown the maximum prescribed limits of their forward-facing seats should ride in a booster seat.
When to use a backless booster seat in Indiana?
You can use a backless booster seat if your vehicle seat has a headrest and the child’s ears are not higher than the seat back.
When can a child sit in the front seat with a booster in Indiana?
Children under the age of 13 years should ride in the backseat. They can ride in the front seat with a booster with the vehicle seat pushed away from the dashboard.
When can a child stop using a booster seat in Indiana?
A child can stop using a booster seat when they turn 8 years old or are big enough for the seat belt to fit properly.
When can a child sit in the front seat in Indiana?
The law does not prohibit a child from sitting in the front seat in Indiana. Ideally, a child should sit in the front seat after they turn 13 years old.
When to switch from 5 point harness to a seat belt in Indiana?
When the child outgrows the height and weight limits of the 5-point harness, they can switch to wearing a seat belt in a booster seat.
When can a child use a regular seat belt in Indiana?
Under the law, a child can start using a regular seat belt once they are 8 years old or have outgrown the height and weight limits of their booster seat.
Do you need a car seat in a taxi in Indiana?
Taxis are not required to have a car seat. However, it is recommended that you carry an appropriate car seat for maximum protection of your child.
Do you need a car seat in a Uber in Indiana?
The law is silent on this issue. But either the caregiver or the driver should provide a federally approved and appropriate car seat.
Do you need a car seat in a Lyft in Indiana?
The law is not clear on this issue. But either the caregiver or the driver should provide an appropriate car seat to ensure the child’s safety.