Car Seats

Alabama Car Seat Laws

Kate Nash

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Looking to find Alabama car seat laws including forward-facing, rear-facing, and booster seat requirements for different ages and weights? If that’s so, you’re on the right page and I have put together a very detailed guide on current active laws in the State of Alabama that can guide you to use of the right restraint system.

Alabama is among the states that have minimum requirements that fall short of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation of using rear-facing seats for children until they reach the age of 2, along with other requirements. You can find the AAP’s updated recommendations for 2018 here.

Although the State’s regulations may be less stringent compared to the expert recommendations, which are significantly safer, we strongly advise adhering to the guidelines provided by the AAP. This is because the States often prioritize enacting legislation that is easy to implement but may not be as up to date with the latest research on child mobility safety. You can also read our guides on other states such as;

Now, let’s get started on Alabama laws;

Alabama Child Passenger Restraint Laws

The 2006 and 2019 legislations amended Section 32-5-222 of the Code of Alabama 1975 relating to child passenger restraint by introducing a requirement to use an infant or convertible seat for infants below 1-year-old, among other changes. Below is a snapshot of the 2006 regulation;

Snapshot of Alabama Child restraint law amended in 2006
Snapshot of Alabama Child restraint law amended in 2006

The law states in part that;

“Every person transporting a child in a motor vehicle operated on the roadways, streets, or highways of this state, shall provide for the protection of the child by properly using… a child passenger restraint system.” The term “motor vehicle” as used in this section shall include a passenger car, pickup truck, van (seating capacity of 10 or less), minivan, or sports utility vehicle

Alabama Child Passenger Restraint Law

Alabama State requires children up to 6 years old must use an appropriate child passenger restraint system that meets FMVSS 213 and all kids under 14 years are required to be restrained.

Below is a snapshot of the

The system used should be suitable for the child’s size and age, as follows:

Rear-facing law:

  • Infants up to one year of age or 20 pounds should use rear-facing infant seats or convertible seats.
  • Below is a snapshot showing the Section 12-s-222 (b)(1) with details on when kids can use rear-facing car seats
Snapshot of Alabama law showing infant rear-facing car seat requirement

Forward-facing law:

  • Children between 1 and 5 years of age, or weighing between 20 and 40 pounds, should use forward-facing convertible seats or forward-facing seats including the front seat.
  • Below is a snapshot showing section C with details of forward-facing car seat laws effective in Alabama today;
Alabama State law on forward-facing car seats weight and age

Booster seat law:

  • Children aged 5 but not yet 6 should use booster seats. Alabama allows the use of belt-positioning booster seats with lap and shoulder belts secured such as Ridesafer between age 5 and 6.
  • Children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car seat should transition to using a Belt-Positioning Booster Seat. This should continue until the vehicle seat belt fits them properly, which typically occurs when they reach a height of 4 feet 9 inches and are between 8 and 12 years old.
  • Alabama Department of Health recommends that you use belt-positioning booster seats with lap and shoulder belts for proper seat belt fit although we could not find this specific regulation in the 2006 regulation. The Department also recommends the use of high-back booster seats for vehicles with low seat backs, and low-back booster seats if the child’s ears are below the top of the seat back. It insists that you should continue using the booster seat until the child’s feet can touch the floor with knees bent and back straight against the seat back as this raises the child to ensure the safety belt fits as designed for an adult passenger.
Alabama booster car seat law

Age requirements in Alabama for child car seats:

  • Infants under 1 year old should be secured in rear-facing seats. Children between the ages of 1 and 5 can transition to forward-facing seats.
  • Once they turn 5, they should use booster seats. From the age of 6 to 14, children can start using seatbelts. The state recommends kids under age of 13 to ride in the back seat for optimal protection.
  • If your child is over the age of five but weighs less than 40 pounds, it is still necessary for them to utilize a forward-facing car seat until they reach the appropriate weight.

Car seat weight requirements in Alabama:

  • Children under 20 pounds should ride in rear-facing seats and kids weighing 20 to 40 pounds should use forward-facing seats.
  • If your baby is over 1 year old and weighs less than 20 pounds, keep using the rear-facing car seat.
  • If your baby has less than 40 pounds and is over 5 years old, keep using a forward-facing seat until they attain 40 pounds.

Seat belt law:

  • Alabama requires children aged 6 to 14 years old to use seat belts.
  • Seat belt law applies to everyone – Any riders over 15 years.
  • Seats that seat belt law applies: Effective September 1, 2019, all passengers in a motor vehicle in Alabama are required to buckle up including those riding RVs or motorhomes. Before this law, only riders in the front seat and minors in the backseat were required to be wearing seatbelts.
  • Seat belts should be worn correctly for optimal safety. The lap belt should rest across the upper thighs, while the shoulder belt should be positioned across the chest. This ensures proper fit and maximum protection.
  • Fine for not wearing a seatbelt in Alabama: $25 for the first violation

Taxi requirements:

  • Alabama has not passed regulations requiring the use of car seats in taxis and is therefore exempt from the current active laws. Your child can ride without a car seat if riding in a taxi or public transport such as a bus with 11 or more seating capacity. Unlike Georgia or New York with specific law requirements for taxi cabs, Alabama exempts taxi operators from the 12-s-222 amendment of 2006.