Car Seat Laws and Recommendations in DC, MD and VA:

By Let Mommy Sleep. May 9, 2018

Please see State by State Car Seat Laws here!

Living in the Washington DC area means frequently driving between Maryland, the District and Northen Virginia. While the CDC has recommendations for the entire country, each local jurisdiction has slightly different laws. Here is a breakdown of each local jurisdiction in the DMV:

Washington DC:

  • 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 of age must be properly seated in an installed infant, convertible (toddler) or booster child seat, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Booster seats must be used with both lap and shoulder belts. 
  • The District of Columbia does not have a law preventing children from riding in the front seat, but it is recommended that children ride in the back seat until the age of 13.

How about Uber? According the Uber's website, carseats can be requested when using an UberX vehicle by choosing the "car seat" option after selecting a vehicle. 

Maryland:

  • Children under eight years old must ride in an appropriate child restraint, unless the child is 4'9" or taller.
  • Every child from 8 to 16 years old who is not secured in a child restraint must be secured in the vehicle's seat belt, in every sitting position in the vehicle.
  • Children are not prohibited from riding in the front seat, with the exception of placing a rear-facing child in the front seat with an active air bag. 

Virginia:

  • Child restraint devices are required for children through the age of seven, until 8th birthday. Height and weight do not matter, just age.
  • Infants should ride in a rear-facing safety seat minimally until they are at least 1 year old AND at least 20 pounds.
  • Rear-facing child restraint devices must be placed in the back seat of a vehicle. In the event the vehicle does not have a back seat, the child restraint device may be placed in the front passenger seat only if the vehicle is either not equipped with a passenger side airbag or the passenger side airbag has been deactivated.
  • Children can not ride unrestrained in the rear cargo area of vehicles.
  • Children can not ride in the back of a pickup truck (unless they're in a parade!)
  • Children age 8 until age 18 must be belted correctly in vehicle safety belts, in vehicles manufactured after January 1, 1968. Exemptions are taxicabs, school buses, executive sedans and limousines.

Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for children 4 years and older and while car seat safety laws vary by jurisdiction, child safety seat recommendations are nationally recognized. As of August 2018, it is now recommended nationally by the CDC that rear-facing child safety seats be used at least until age 2 but preferably until 4 years of age or longer.