Ohio’s Child Restraint Law

Categories: Motor Vehicle Safety

All states have child safety seat laws. These laws require children to travel in approved child restraints or booster seats and some permit or require older children to use adult safety belts. However, states differ, including for example, the age at which belts can be used instead of child safety seats. The enforcement and fines also differ among the states.

Ohio’s Child Passenger Safety Law is set forth in Ohio Revised Code 4511.81. Ohio’s Child Passenger Safety Law currently requires the following:

  • Children less than 4 years old or 40 pounds must use a child safety seat meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards.
  • Children less than 8 years old, unless they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall must use a booster seat.
  • Children ages 8-15 must use a child safety seat or safety belt.

Currently there is only a very limited exemption “when an emergency exists that threatens the life of any person operating or occupying a motor vehicle that is being used to transport a child who otherwise would be required to be restrained under [Ohio’s law].” Ohio Revised Code 4511.81(H). Further, Ohio’s requirements “do not apply to a person operating a motor vehicle who has an affidavit signed by a physician licensed to practice in this state… or a chiropractor licensed to practice in this state..that states that the child who otherwise would be required to be restrained… has a physical impairment that makes use of a child restraint system, booster seat, or an occupant restraining device impossible or impractical, provided that the person operating the vehicle has safely and appropriately restrained the child in accordance with any recommendations of the physician or chiropractor as noted on the affidavit.”

Ohio’s law does not necessarily require you to carry the child’s birth certificate to prove the age of the child.   However, “the production of a valid birth certificate for a child showing that the child was not of an age to which [the law] applies is a defense against any ticket, citation, or summons issued for violating this section.” Ohio Revised Code 4511.81(K).

For information on child restraint laws in other states, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) provides a summary of state occupant protection and motorcycle laws.  (It is current as of November 15, 2013.)

Borgess Law, LLC advocates for motor vehicle safety and provides experienced legal representation for motor vehicle accident victims and their families throughout Ohio.  For information about Ohio’s motor vehicle laws or if you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, feel free to contact Borgess Law, LLC at (567) 455-5955. You can also contact Borgess Law, LLC by submitting an online inquiry. Borgess Law never charges a fee for an initial consultation.

Please remember that laws often change. Therefore, the information in this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments and should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.