Rhode Island Car Seat Laws (2022): Rear- or Forward-facing, or Booster

According to Rhode Island State Child Restraint Law, children under 8 years old should ride in a size-appropriate restraint system in compliance with the United States Department of Transportation Standards and according to the specifications listed by the safety seat manufacturers.

Rhode Island Child Passenger Restraints Requirements

Rhode Island Legislature Laws § 31-22-22. (a) (1) on Safety belt use - Child restraint reads: "(a) (1) Any person transporting a child under the age of eight (8), less than fifty-seven inches (57″) in height and less than eighty pounds (80 lbs.), in a motor vehicle operated on the roadways, streets, or highways of this state, shall transport the child in any rear seating position of the motor vehicle properly restrained in a child restraint system approved by the United States Department of Transportation under 49 C.F.R. § 571.213. "

Rhode Island Rear-Facing Car Seat Laws

According to the regulations in section § 31-22-22 (a) 1 in Rhode Island laws, infants and toddlers under 2 years of age or weighing less than 30 pounds must travel in a rear-facing car seat.

Safety tips:

  • Never put a rear-facing car seat in the forward-facing position or in front of an active airbag.
  • Most infant-only car seats satisfy the weight requirement, but may not last for 2 years of use for your child’s second birthday. For this instance, it’s better to get a car seat for 2 years old with longer rear-facing time.

Rhode Island Forward Facing Car Seat Laws

The rules in section § 31-22-22 (a) 1 indicate that children who are two years of age or older should use a forward-facing car seat when they reach the highest weight or height limit set by the manufacturer.

The front-facing car seat should feature a harness.

Safety tips:

  • A 5-point harness is still the best to secure the toddlers and preschoolers at this age and weight range.
  • The child should stay in this type of car seat as long as possible until they reach the maximum height or weight allowed by the car seat manufacturer.

Child Booster Seat Laws in Rhode Island

Interpreting the rules in § 31-22-22 (a) 1, children under eight years of age, shorter than 57 inches, and less than 80 lbs. must ride in a booster seat, after they outgrow their rear- and forward-facing car seats.

Safety tips:

  • The child should use a booster seat until the eighth birthday. 
  • Don’t rashly get the child out of a car seat until they exceed the height or weight limit of their booster seats.

Seat Belt Laws for Rhode Island

According to Rhode Island laws in section § 31-22-22 (a) 1 and (b) (1), a child who is at least 57-inches in height or weighing 80 pounds or more must ride with a seat belt and/ or shoulder harness until age 18.

The seat belt or shoulder harness should be approved by the Department of Transportation pursuant to 49 C.F.R. § 571.208.

The child is required to be placed in the rear back seat when wearing a seat belt.

This rule applies even when the child is 8 years or younger. It means that your child is big enough when they are 57-inches or taller, or 80 pounds or heavier. 

However, the laws just talk about the minimum requirements. You may need a few advanced safety tips.

Safety tips:

  • Keep your child in a booster seat for as long as possible until he or she outgrows their booster seat.
  • If your child is eight years old but does not fit well in a seat belt, a harness system is legally approved for security as well.
  • It’s better to use Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts for optimal protection. 

Penalty for Breaking Car Seat Laws in Rhode Island

Violating the Rhode Island law to transport a child without a child restraint system requires the operator to appear in court, along with a fine of up to $85. 

If you fail to buckle up the seat belt for children over 8 years old, you’ll be fined $85.

If you transport a child younger than 8 years old in the front seat, you’ll also be fined another $85.

Rhode Island Car Seat Laws Apply for

Every person transporting a child shall be responsible for assuring that each child is properly restrained pursuant to Rhode Island State Law, no matter whether you are a resident or traveler.


No exceptions are stated in the car seat laws in Rhode Island.

When can a child legally sit in the front seat in Rhode Island?

According to Rhode Island car seat law, a child can’t sit in the front seat before the age of 8. A fine of $85 will be slapped for not following this law.

However, this law is a minimum requirement, and child safety experts recommend your child sit in the back seat until the age of 13.

Taxi Car Seat Law in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island law does not list any exception for a taxicab.

It’s supposed the car seat law is suitable for all operators.

However, this does not mean the taxi drivers should be responsible for preparing a car seat for little passengers. It’s the parents’ and guardians’ responsibility for the child’s safety in a motor vehicle.

Age, Weight, Height Requirements in Rhode Island Law

Age, weight, and height are the most common three criteria in the Rhode Island seat belt law on transporting a child.

Rear-facing (stage 1): under two years of age & 30 pounds

Forward-facing (stage 2): two years older, no specific weight and height requirements

Booster (stage 3): under eight years old, 80 pounds in weight, 57 inches tall

Seat belt (stage 4): bigger than 8 years old

Best Car Seats to Work with Rhode Island Laws

You’ll find Rhode Island car seat laws a bit strict on age, weight, and height requirements, especially on the rear-facing position. It requires infants below two years old or 30 pounds to face the rear for safe riding.

Luckily, you’ll find the 2 years old age requirement is not that stiff with the word ‘or’, along with the weight requirement of 30 pounds.


Rear-Facing Car Seat for Infants and Small Toddlers

Doona Infant Car Seat and Stroller

Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller Combo

More than this Doona car seat and stroller combo, there are a few excellent options available for riding infants in rear-facing. But not all will perform as well as it to allow 1-year-old infants to face the back for this long time, Chicco KeyFit 30 for example, features a low 30-lb weight limit that might not go through the first year. 

Forward-Facing for Big Toddlers and Preschoolers

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

Graco Extend2Fit

This convertible car seat is great enough to meet the parent’s need to ride their kids in the rear- and front-facing for a longer time. It features 50-lb rear-facing weight limit to be one of the best rear-facing car seats for 2 years old.

When using it facing front, the 65-lb weight limit makes it go through the preschool ages – 3 years old, 4 years old, and 5 years old.

Booster Seats for Big Kids

Graco TurboBooster Backless Booster

Graco TurboBooster Backless Booster


The Graco TurboBooster is the most popular and best budget car seat to meet the State Law to ride older children, six or seven years old, or even bigger. While six years of age is relatively younger than other states’ eight years of age requirement, it’s sooner for Alabama children to get rid of a car seat.

But for parents in Alabama, you may keep your kid in a car seat as long as possible for safety’s sake.