Michigan Car Seat Laws 2023

Car collisions are a prominent contributor to mortality among children aged 1 to 13. Based on official data, a considerable percentage of child passengers who met a tragic end in vehicular accidents throughout 2022 were categorized as “unrestrained,” indicating their failure to be suitably secured within any child restraint system.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees that using car seats can reduce the risk of injuries resulting from such collisions by 71%.

In adherence to Michigan’s legislation, drivers of motor vehicles bear the responsibility of securely fastening children below the age of four within an appropriate child restraint system.

Children aged between 4 and 8, who are less than 4’9″ tall, must be adequately fastened in a booster seat to ensure their safety. This article explains everything you need to know about the Michigan car seat laws in 2023.

Michigan Car Seat Laws 2023

The following are the various types of car seat laws available in Michigan:

1. Forward Facing Car Seat Law in Michigan

In Michigan, the rules about using forward-facing car seats state that Children under four years old have to be securely strapped into a car seat that follows the strict safety standards set by the federal motor vehicle safety guidelines. This rule stays in place until the child turns four.

The Michigan Highway Safety Planning Office strongly recommends that parents and caregivers keep using a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible. They must also follow the weight and height limits the seat maker gives.

Non-compliance with Michigan’s law regarding using forward-facing child seats is considered a civil infraction, carrying a penalty of $10. 

However, the court may waive this fine if credible evidence is provided before the scheduled hearing, demonstrating the purchase, acquisition, or rental of an appropriate forward-facing seat.

2. Michigan Car Seat Laws on Child Front Seats

In adherence to Michigan’s child front seat law, Kids under four years old have to sit in the back seat, provided it is available for use. They also need to be properly strapped in.

If all the back seats are taken by children under 4, they can sit in the front seat as long as they use a child restraint system and are securely held.

Notwithstanding the prescribed front seat age limit of 4 years in Michigan, it is strongly advised that children occupy the backseat until they reach the age of 13.

If you decide to put your child in the front seat, ensure they’re safe using a car seat that fits their height and weight.

When using a rear-facing car seat, turning off the airbag on the passenger side is essential. The airbag could hurt infants. Move the car seat as far away from the dashboard as possible to lower the risk of accidents.

3. Rear-Facing Car Seat Law In Michigan

Michigan has yet to have a definitive rear-facing car seat law. According to the child seat regulations in Michigan, all children below four must be securely restrained in an appropriate car seat.

Despite the absence of a designated rear-facing car seat age in Michigan, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning strongly recommends utilizing an infant rear-facing seat until the child reaches the maximum weight or height limits specified by the seat. 

Opting for an extended period of rear-facing seating is considered the safest approach.

While there is no explicit Michigan law about rear-facing child seats, non-compliance with the abovementioned requirements carries a maximum penalty of $10. The responsibility of payment falls upon the motor vehicle driver transporting the child.

4. Michigan Car Seat Laws on Booster Seats 

Michigan’s child booster seat law states that children 4 years old or older but younger than 8 and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches must be securely fastened in a booster seat.

If your vehicle is equipped with headrests, you can opt for a backless booster seat as a suitable choice.

Hence, Michigan’s designated age range for booster seat usage is for children between 4 and 8 years. 

However, it is advisable to transition your child to a booster seat only when they surpass the maximum weight or height limits of their forward-facing seats.

Kids must keep using a booster seat until they’re 4 feet 9 inches tall or until the seat belt fits snugly across their lap and shoulders, ensuring optimal security and a proper fit.

Violating Michigan’s booster seat requirements is considered a civil infraction, carrying a fine of $25 as punishment.

5. Ridesharing Car Seat Law in Michigan

Michigan has yet to set a specific law for ride-sharing car seats. But according to Michigan’s current car seat rules, it’s essential to ensure all kids under four years old are safely strapped into a car seat.

The law doesn’t say who should provide or install the car seat, and it’s unclear if it applies to ridesharing services.

To prevent any violation of Michigan’s child seat laws, it is strongly advised that caregivers or drivers take the initiative to provide an appropriate car seat.

This means using a rear-facing car seat for infants, while young children require either a forward or booster seat. As for children exceeding a height of 4’9″, they may transition to utilizing a seat belt.

6. Child Seat Belt Law in Michigan

According to Michigan’s child seat belt law, all children above four years of age but below 16 years and measuring at least 4’9″ tall are obligated to don an adult safety belt. It doesn’t matter if the child is seated at the front or back; these laws apply.

These seat belt rules don’t include children who can’t use a seat belt for physical or medical reasons. If a child can’t use a seat belt, they need a written verification from a licensed physician, explicitly detailing the underlying reasons for their exemption.

Michigan’s children’s seat belt law is a primary law. It allows law enforcement officials to stop a car if a child isn’t wearing a seat belt.

Violation of this law constitutes a civil infraction, attracting a monetary penalty of $25.

7. Michigan Laws Concerning Leaving a Child Alone in the Car

As per the legal provisions concerning leaving a child unattended in a vehicle in Michigan, abandoning a child below six is strictly prohibited without appropriate supervision. 

The act of leaving a child alone in a vehicle entails grave consequences. The interior temperature of the vehicle can rapidly escalate. This presents a significant risk of heatstroke because children’s bodies heat up at a faster pace than those of adults.

Leaving a child unattended in a car in Michigan is a misdemeanor offense. The party held accountable may face a maximum imprisonment period of 93 days, a fine not exceeding $500, or both. 

If the child sustains physical harm or loses their life due to this negligence, the responsible individual gets a prison term of 1 to 15 years.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Age Group Does the Michigan Car Seat Law Apply To?

The car seat law in Michigan applies to children under the age of 4 years. The law mandates that they be properly restrained in an appropriate child restraint system.

Are There Specific Guidelines for Transitioning From Rear-Facing to Forward-Facing Seats?

It is recommended by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning to keep children in rear-facing seats for as long as possible. This is until they exceed the weight or height limits set by the seat manufacturer.

What Are the Requirements for Booster Seats in Michigan?

Children at least four years old but younger than eight years old and shorter than 4’9″ must be secured in a booster seat. 

This ensures that the seat belt fits them properly and enhances their safety during travel.

Can Children Over 4’9” Use a Seat Belt Instead of a Booster Seat in Michigan?

Children who have reached a height of 4’9″ or taller may transition from a booster seat to using a seat belt. 

However, ensuring that the seat belt fits them correctly is essential. Crossing their lap and shoulders snugly for optimal protection is essential.

Do the Car Seat Laws in Michigan Apply to Ridesharing Services Like Uber and Lyft?

The precise application of Michigan’s car seat laws to ridesharing services is not explicitly mentioned. 

However, you must follow best practices and ensure that children are appropriately restrained in a car or booster seat when using ridesharing services to prioritize their safety.

What Are the Consequences of Violating Michigan’s Car Seat Laws?

Violating Michigan’s car seat laws is considered a civil infraction, which may result in fines. 

The specific fines vary depending on the nature of the violation. It is crucial to comply with the car seat laws to avoid potential legal consequences and ensure the safety of children during travel.


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