Car Seat Laws in Michigan
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What to Know About Michigan Car Seat Belt Laws

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Michigan’s car seat laws are designed to keep children safe by ensuring they’re appropriately strapped in whenever they’re in a vehicle. Michigan’s front seat law and MI’s booster seat law specify the age at which a child can sit in the front seat and when a booster seat is necessary.

Despite these regulations, accidents can still occur. In 2022, Michigan saw 30 fatalities and 4,747 injuries in children younger than 15 in car accidents, with 1 child death and 66 injuries due to no restraint use.

Understanding the state’s child car seat laws can help protect your little ones whenever they ride in a car. But if an accident happens, our Michigan auto lawyers can help you get compensation for your family’s injuries from the liable party.

What Are the Car Seat Laws in Michigan?

Michigan Statute 257.710d specifically addresses car seat regulations for children under the age of 4. Here’s what’s mandated in the Great Lakes State:

  • Drivers must secure children under 4 in a child restraint system. This system must comply with the standards outlined in 49 CFR 571.213.
  • The child must be placed in a back seat and wear a rear-facing car seat if available. This is mandatory for vehicles equipped with rear seating options.

There are also seat belt laws that apply to older children who don’t require special car seats. These are mandated under Statute 257.710e, which states that:

  • Drivers are responsible for ensuring children between 4 and 16 wear a properly adjusted safety belt.
  • Children between 4 and 8 who are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches in height must be secured in a child restraint system.

When Can a Child Sit in the Front Seat in Michigan?

In Michigan, when a child can sit in the front is determined by height rather than age. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it’s a good idea to wait until age 13 to have them ride in the front, but state law specifies the following requirements for these passengers:

  • Children between 4 and 8 who are over 4 feet 9 inches tall can ride in the front if they are wearing a fastened safety belt.
  • Children aged 4 and under can be seated in the front seat in a child restraint system if all rear seats are occupied by other children under 4.
  • If the front passenger airbag is deactivated, a rear-facing child restraint system can be used in the front seat. This safety measure helps protect the child in case of an accident.

When Can a Child Sit in the Front Seat in Michigan?

Are There Motor Vehicles For Which The Michigan Car Seat Laws Do Not Apply?

Statute 257.710e outlines exceptions to the standard child seat restraint requirements for certain vehicles in the state. These exemptions often apply to vehicles without safety belts or those equipped with integrated features designed to protect young passengers.

  • Classic cars exemption. Vehicles manufactured before January 1, 1965, are not required to follow modern child seat restraint laws because they were built before safety belts became standard equipment.
  • Motorcycles. These vehicles are exempt from child seat restraint laws due to their open and unique design, which doesn’t accommodate the installation of child restraint systems.
  • Mopeds. Similar to motorcycles, mopeds are exempt because their design and usage do not support the feasibility of child seat restraints.
  • Buses exemption. Public, private, and school buses are not subject to standard child seat restraint laws, likely due to their design and the safety measures already in place within these larger vehicles.
  • Vehicles without safety belts. Any vehicle not required by federal law to have safety belts is exempt from child seat restraint laws, acknowledging that some vehicles are designed with alternative safety features or for specific uses that do not accommodate traditional restraints.

Are There Other Exceptions to the Michigan Car Seat Laws?

There are a few additional exceptions to the car seat laws in Michigan that require adjusted and fastened safety features for children’s restraints, including:

  • Medical exemption. If a child has written verification from a doctor stating they are unable to wear a safety belt due to physical or medical reasons, they are exempt from the law requiring safety belt use.
  • Exceeding safety belt capacity. If a vehicle has more passengers than available safety belts and all existing safety belts are in use, the driver is adhering to the law. This is valid, provided that every
    passenger with access to a safety belt uses it.
  • Special provisions for children (4 to 16). Operators must secure children within this age range using safety belts. However, if there are more children than safety belts:
    • If all safety belts are in use and it’s impossible to secure each child, the law still considers the operator compliant.
    • If there are not enough safety belts for children aged 8 to less than 16, they should be seated in areas other than the front seat, assuming all other conditions for safety belt use are met.
    • There’s an exception for pickup trucks that lack extended cabs or jump seats: if others use all safety belts, a child may sit in the front seat even without a safety belt.

Are Child Seats Effective?

Following Michigan’s child safety seat laws is required and can save your child’s life in a crash. The NHTSA estimates that when used correctly, child restraints can reduce fatalities by:

  • 71% for infants under 1 year
  • 54% for children between 1 and 4 years old in passenger cars
  • 58% for infants and 59% for children 1 to 4 in light trucks
  • Risk of injury is reduced by 45% for children 4 to 8 when compared to seat belts alone

Using proper restraints for all children in your vehicle can help minimize their injuries in a crash and keep you and your family safe. However, if a collision happens, our qualified attorneys can step in to help you get fair compensation to pay for you and your child’s injuries.

Get Experienced Legal Representation After a Crash

When an accident involves injury to a child, it can be particularly stressful for all concerned because, as parents, protecting our children is our priority. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we approach your case with empathy, offering legal guidance and helping your child receive the compensation they deserve for their injury.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We can discuss your case, investigate the incident to determine liability, and help you file a claim with your insurance or a third-party claim to get financial support for your recovery.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Steve is a former criminal justice worker. With degrees in psychology and social work, he spent most of his life helping those with addiction issues before switching to criminal justice. He was responsible for writing court reports and advising judges on sentencing. He also supervised offenders, including sex offenders, in the community and carried out risk assessments and probation appraisals. He now lives in SE Asia and is working on his 5th novel.

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