Car Seat Safety Laws in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia:

By Let Mommy Sleep. March 23, 2015

Car seat safety laws vary by jurisdiction.  For our families in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) area, we break down the current laws by each state.  Be sure to check with your jurisdiction or county for additional regulations:

Washington, D.C.

  • Any child up to 16 years of age must be in a properly installed child safety seat or restrained in a seat belt
  • Children under 8 years old must be in a properly installed infant, convertible (toddler) or booster child seat.
  • Booster seats must be used with both lap and shoulder belts
  • Passengers under 3 years old must be properly secured in an approved child safety seat in the rear of the vehicle.



  • Children under 8 must ride in an appropriate child safety seat, unless the child is 4'9" or taller. Child safety seats include car seats and booster seats.
  • Every child from 8-16 years old must be secured with a seat belt
  • The law applies to both in-State and out-of-State vehicles, and is the driver’s responsibility.
  • Children under the age of 16 may not ride in a bed of an unenclosed pick-up truck.



  • Child safety seats are required for all children until their 8th Safety seats must be used and approved by the Department of Transportation standards. There is no height or weight requirement. The law is based solely on age.
  • Rear-facing child safety seats must be placed in the back seat of a vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a back seat, the child safety seat may only be placed in the front passenger seat if there is no passenger side airbag or if the airbag has been deactivated
  • Children cannot ride unrestrained in the rear cargo area of vehicles.
  • Children ages 8-17 (until 18th birthday) must restrained by a seatbelt.
  • Children under the age of 16 may not ride in a bed of an unenclosed pick-up truck.

Despite the laws, most states also cite recommendations for safe car seat practice and offer resources on the types of child safety seats available with recommended age, weight, and height requirements.  Please read the current suggestions on this fact sheet, courtesy of the CDC: