What are the car seat laws in Rhode Island?

Children in RI who are at least 57 inches tall and weigh 80 pounds are allowed to use an adult seat belt. Neglecting the state laws is considered child endangerment.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Rhode Island car insurance companies take seat belt and child safety laws seriously
  • Children must be 13 before they can sit in the front seat in Rhode Island
  • Failing to abide by child safety seat laws for kids younger than eight results in monetary fines, penalties, and even a court hearing
  • Kids must remain in the rear-facing position until they are one

Car seat laws are in place in Rhode Island to protect the lives of children. Thousands of children are injured in car accidents every year because they are not in an approved car seat or because they are not properly situated in their car seat.

It’s one of the easiest ways to prevent injury from occurring to children, yet it’s something many parents don’t realize when they buckle their kids up each day.

Are you aware just how to install your child’s car seat correctly, what age and size your child must be for his or her seat, and when you can graduate your child into larger seats?

The law in Rhode Island works to keep kids safe on the road, and it’s important parents understand how it works. It’s also important parents understand that car seats must meet specific safety requirements.

It’s helpful for you to learn that your car insurance agency is also offering you a chance to replace your car seat after it’s been damaged in a car accident, and it’s one of the most important things you should ask when you begin comparing rates with various agencies.

Enter your ZIP code into our free rate tool above to begin comparing car insurance quotes.

Car Seat Laws in Rhode Island


Rhode Island law requires all children younger than eight years old to sit in an approved child safety seat. Beginning when babies are born, they must ride in a car seat.

The recommendation issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics states your child should remain in a rear-facing seat for at least two years, but the law has not changed in Rhode Island.

It’s slowly becoming a law in other states and it might change at some point in Rhode Island, but it has not changed yet. Here are Rhode Island’s child seat laws:

  • Children under one and under 20 pounds must sit in an infant seat or a convertible seat that faces the rear. This kind of seat is typically designed for kids that weigh up to 20 pounds, but there are convertible seats that grow with children so parents don’t have to replace their seats annually.
  • Once a child turns one and weighs 20 pounds, the law allows you to turn your child around to face the front. Once your child is facing the front, he or she must remain in a five-point harness type car seat until they reach age four and at least 40 pounds.
  • Not until a child reaches this 40 pounds and four years old may they graduate to a booster seat. Once in a booster, your child is there until he or she reaches the age of eight, 80 pounds, and 57 inches.
  • Once your child reaches this 80 pounds and 57 inches, they can sit in the seat of the car without any child safety seats. However, they must be buckled into the car until they are 12.

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What do you need to know about car seats?

There’s a lot of information regarding child safety seats you must know in Rhode Island. One of the most important pieces of information you should know is that you are subject to a fine and court costs if you do not properly restrain your kids in their car seats.

The cost of the fine is $85 if your child is older than eight and in the front seat or not wearing a seatbelt.

If your child is younger than eight and you do not require him or her to ride in a car seat, you don’t pay a fine. You are required to appear in court in front of a judge. This is considered child endangerment, and there are far worse punishments than a fine for this.

In addition to whatever punishment is issued if you’re caught doing this, you are also required to pay the cost of your court fees.

Proper car seat installation is another important subject in Rhode Island. If you’re unsure how to properly install a car seat, you are not alone in this confusion.

They’re all different, and that’s why all local Rhode Island police stations welcome all parents to stop by anytime to have an officer go over the rules of proper installation. Education is important in Rhode Island.

One more vital piece of information regarding car seat laws in Rhode Island encompasses the age of the car seat and the condition of the seat itself. No car seat that’s been previously involved in an accident is safe to use.

Car seats manufactured more than six years ago are not safe, and any car seat missing all the safety information and instructions is not safe.

Keeping Children Safe in Their Car Seats in Rhode Island


If your child’s car seat is not considered safe, it will do little to protect your child in the car. Always discuss child safety seat replacement with your insurance agency.

If yours doesn’t offer this in the comprehensive coverage you’re paying for, you want to compare rates with other companies. It’s the only way to ensure your child is in a safe car seat that can properly protect your child in the event of an accident.

How to Be Sure You’re Buying A Safe Car Seat

Not just any car seat will suffice for just any child. Your child’s car seat must fit your child’s age and size. It must be manufactured in the past six years to ensure it is made with all the latest safety features, and it must not be used.

The best way to buy a new car seat is to check ratings.

  • Buy a seat designed for your child’s weight
  • Check safety ratings
  • Research the different types of seats

Your baby, your toddler, and your young child deserve safety in the car. The many choices can make buying the right car seat seem overwhelming, but checking off the list of most important features can make it much less intimidating.

Nothing is more important than covering every aspect of your child’s safety in the car, which includes finding the right car insurance policy.

Saving your child’s life is as simple as finding the right car seat and knowing the cost of a new one is covered by your insurance if you’re in an accident.

Compare car insurance quotes right here to find the best rate for the coverage you need. Enter your ZIP code below to begin.

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