Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Feb 24, 2022

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Learn the Law

  • Citizens of Alabama must follow the car seat laws of the state to keep themselves and their children safe
  • Not following Alabama car seat laws leads to fines and penalties, not to mention the risk of injury or even death in the event of an accident
  • The state of Alabama has laws to keep residents safe and fully protected, and provides many resources to ensure safety and compliance

Alabama car seat laws are in place to ensure all state citizens properly use car seats and booster seats to fully protect children. Car accidents are also the chief cause of death in Alabama for people ages one to 34, so the state has its own laws and resources to ensure all precautions are being taken by its residents.

Drivers need to follow Alabama car insurance laws as well as car seat laws. In this article, we will tell you all about the Alabama car seat laws so you can make sure you and your children are fully protected. 

If you’re a resident of Alabama and you need an insurance quote, enter your ZIP code in our comparison tool to easily compare free car insurance quotes from the best companies in your area and make your choice today. 

What are the car seat laws in Alabama?

The state of Alabama has several amendments in state legislation to define the violations at which Alabama State Police will issue fines and citations.

  • 1991 Secondary Seat Belt Law: Each front seat occupant of a vehicle with safety belts in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208 shall have a safety belt properly fastened at all times while the vehicle is in motion. 
  • 1999 Primary Seat Belt Law: Makes failure to adhere to child car seat laws a primary offense.
  • 2006 Child Restraint Law: Defines the ages and limitations for child passengers in a motor vehicle. 

Car seat laws do not apply to taxis and buses. A bus is defined as a motor vehicle with more than eleven seats.

Alabama passed the Alabama Child Restraint Law in 2006, which states: 

“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 can include passenger cars, minivans, pickup trucks, vans with up to ten seats, and sports cars.

In Alabama, someone is injured in a car crash every fifteen seconds. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, driving in Alabama means you have a 54.1% chance that you’ll encounter a car accident in your lifetime. They estimate that proper car seat and booster seat usage lowers the risk of fatality by 71% for infants and 50% for toddlers. 

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What are the repercussions for a violation of Alabama car seat laws?

Drivers will face a fine of $25 by the Alabama state police if they are caught with a child in an improper restraint. The state uses $15 of the fine towards car seats that go to low-income families. 

In addition, the Department of Public Safety will deduct one point from the driver, and two points for each subsequent offense. 

Alabama car seat laws also forbid leaving a child alone in a car if there are any unsafe outside conditions. The temperature inside the vehicle must be under 99 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered safe for a child. 

Violations of Alabama motor vehicle laws can also affect the price of your car insurance.

Alabama Car Seat Law Requirements by Age

Protect your children as they grow by changing the seat appropriate to their size. Alabama state law breaks this down into four categories and specifies the requirements for each. 

Infants and Toddlers

Rear-facing only seats and rear-facing convertible seats must be used for children up to age one or until they reach 20 pounds in weight.

  • Never put a rear-facing seat in the forward facing position, in the front seat, or in front of an active airbag.
  • Ensure the harness has a snug fit, and that the harness clip is placed at the center of the child’s chest, level with the child’s armpits.
  • Seat must be tightly secured using the vehicle’s seat belt or anchored using the LATCH System. 

Rear-facing seats and convertible seats in the rear-facing position until they reach age two or the height-weight limitations by the safety seat manufacturer. 

Children Age One to Five

Forward-facing seats must be used for children who have outgrown the rear-facing seats requirements. This includes:

  • Children between ages one to five or under 40 pounds
  • If your child is older than five, but weighs less than 40 pounds, that child still must use a forward-facing car seat until reaching the appropriate weight.
  • Forward-facing seats and convertible seats must always be in the backseat of the vehicle. 

Use as long as possible until your child reaches the highest height-weight limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer.

Children Age Five to Six 

School-age children whose weight or height is above the limit for forward-facing seats must instead use a booster seat. Booster seats make the vehicle safety belt fit how it is designed to fit a fully grown passenger. 

  • Use belt-positioning booster seats with lap and shoulder belts secured.
  • Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs, and shoulder belt fits across the chest.

All children between ages five and six must be placed in a booster seat and ride in the backseat of the vehicle.

Children Age Six and Above 

Alabama law enforcement encourages parents to transition from a booster seat to the car’s safety belt per the instructions of the seat’s manufacturer.  

Children between six and 15 can legally wear the vehicle’s seat belt without a booster seat. The state of Alabama recommends seating children younger than 13 in the rear seats of the vehicle for optimal protection.

How do I fully protect my child?

Child safety seats help prevent death and injury in the event of a crash. Children are more likely than adults to suffer injuries because their bodies are still developing. Their bones are softer, neck muscles weaker, and bodies more fragile. 

A child safety seat protects in the following ways:

  • Securely holds the child in the seat of the vehicle.
  • Protects the child from being thrown out of the vehicle or from hitting something inside the vehicle.
  • Absorbs the force of the crash
  • Prevents the child from being crushed by other passengers or debris.

The majority of injuries children suffer in a car crash are due to sudden stops. This often results in being thrown into the windshield or dashboard or out of the vehicle entirely. A child safety seat prevents these sudden motions from happening and keeps the child properly secured in their seats. 

Are you trying to replace your child’s car seat after an accident? It’s possible a car seat replacement could be covered by your car insurance.

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Do you need help making sure you’re following Alabama car seat laws?

Even with these laws in place, a majority of parents still misuse their car seats and child restraints. For the parents that need help, the  Alabama Department of Public Health has a team of child passenger safety technicians to help.

These technicians help citizens obtain the resources needed to properly secure and protect their children and correctly install child seats in accordance with Alabama state laws. They will inspect your car seat free of charge and show you how to correctly install and use your car seats.

If you have a passion for helping keep Alabama children safe in cars, you can become a nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technician through the Safe Kids Program. Join a team of more than 43,000 nationally certified technicians and be a resource to your community. 

The Alabama Yellow Dot Program

To help keep Alabama residents safe in the event of a car crash, the state is part of the Yellow Dot Program. Administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the program provides assistance to people involved in auto accidents by providing first responders instant access to critical medical information. 

Those who take part in the program will receive a Yellow Dot decal to place on the car, as well as a folder and form to provide key information such as name, photo, medical information, and medical history. Store this information in the vehicle’s glove box. The Yellow Dot decal on the exterior will signal to first responders to look for the Yellow Dot folder in the event of an emergency. 

The Yellow Dot Program is a free service provided to individuals of all ages, but with an emphasis on senior citizens and child passengers with medical conditions.

If you would like to enroll in the Alabama Yellow Dot Program, please contact the Northeast Alabama Traffic Safety Office.

Alabama Car Seat Laws Are There to Protect You 

If you are a parent in the state of Alabama, be sure to familiarize yourself with Alabama’s car seat laws. The leading cause of death in the state is car crashes. Keeping yourself and your child passengers safe and secure is the most effective method of prevention. 

Alabama has defined the laws clearly and provided its residents with all of the resources needed to make sure citizens and their children are fully protected while on the road. Follow these laws and regulations to keep yourselves and those around you safe.

Residents of Alabama should weigh all of their insurance options in addition to their child’s safety. Enter your ZIP code in our free tool to easily compare car insurance quotes from the highest-rated companies in your area. 

References:

  1. https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/injuryprevention/child-restraints.html
  2. https://adeca.alabama.gov/
  3. https://adeca.alabama.gov/trafficsafety/