Tennessee Car Seat Laws (2022) – Rear- or Forward-facing, or Booster

According to Tennessee State Law, all children under 15 years old should travel in a child restraint system until they fit the seat belt properly. The child restraint system can be a safety car seat and seat belt, based on the child’s age, weight, and height.

The TN law updated with changes on age, weight, and height requirements and took effective July 1st, 2004.

What is the Child Car Seat Law in Tennessee?

Tennessee Legislature Section T.C.A. 55-9-602 (a) on Child Passenger Restraint reads: (1) Any person transporting any child, under one (1) year of age, or any child, weighing twenty pounds (20 lbs.) or less, [...] properly using a child passenger restraint system in a rear facing position,[...]. (2) Notwithstanding § 55-9-603, any person transporting any child, one through three (1-3) years of age weighing greater than twenty pounds (20 lbs.), [...] the protection of the child and properly using a child passenger restraint system in a forward facing position, [...] manufacturer's instructions. (3) Notwithstanding § 55-9-603, any person transporting any child, four through eight (4-8) years of age and measuring less than four feet, nine inches (4′ 9″) in height, [...] properly using a belt positioning booster seat system, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards in the rear seat [...].

Tennessee State Regulations

Tennessee Rear-Facing Car Seat Laws

Tennessee rules in section T.C.A. 55-9-602 (a) (1) say that all infants and toddlers under one year of age or below 20 pounds must be secured in a rear-facing car seat.

The rear-facing car seat can be an infant-only safety car seat or convertibles installed in a rear-facing position.

The updated TN law also recommends keeping a child in a rear-facing position as long as possible if the car seat features a higher weight or height limit.

Examples are the 50-lb rear-facing weight limit of Graco Extend2Fit and the 43-inch rear-facing height limit of Chicco NextFit Zip.

Tennessee Forward Facing Car Seat Laws

According to the Tennessee regulation in section T.C.A. 55-9-602 (a) (2), children age 3 or younger and weighing more than 20 pounds must ride in a forward-facing car seat, after they outgrow the highest weight or height limit for the rear-facing car seat.

The forward-facing car seat needs to be installed in the back seat of the vehicle.

How old does a child have to be to be forward-facing in Tennessee?
A child needs to be at least 1 year old to face forward in a car seat in Tennessee.

Child Booster Seat Laws in Tennessee

The Tennessee rule in section T.C.A. 55-9-602 (a) (3) requires a child to be secured in a belt-positioning booster seat when they are at least 4 years old until they are 8 years of age and measuring less than 4 feet 9 inches in height.

What are the height and weight requirements for a booster seat in Tennessee?
A child who is less than 4 feet 9 inches tall must travel in a booster seat. That’s the height requirement in Tennessee. No weight is mentioned in the booster seat law.

Seat Belt Laws for Child in Mississippi

By TN law in section T.C.A. 55-9-602 (g) (1) (A), children aged between 9 and 12, and measuring 4 feet 9 inches tall should be secured in a seat belt system, in the back seat.

It’s also recommended to put children over 12 years of age in a seat belt in the back seat for best safety.

Penalty for Breaking Car Seat Laws in Tennessee

Violating the TN regulations will result in a fine of $50.

Tennessee Car Seat Laws Apply for

According to Tennessee law, the driver of the car is responsible for making sure that children under the age of 16 are properly restrained in the car.

If the child’s parent or legal guardian is present in the car but not driving, the parent or legal guardian is responsible for making sure that the child is properly transported and may be fined for non-compliance.

When can a child sit in the front seat in Tennessee?

TN law says that a child should be placed in the back seat until they are 8 years old.

The law also recommends children age 12 years or younger sit in the back seat for safety.

It’s best to follow the common rule that allows a child at least 13 years old to sit in the front passenger seat, even Tennessee does not require that.

Taxi Car Seat Law in Tennessee

Taxis are exempt from child restraint laws in Tennessee but it’s their responsibility to let parents use a child restraint system if they want. 

Age, Weight, Height Requirements in Tennessee Law

The TN laws state very detailed requirements on a child’s age, weight, and height, and car seat.

  • Rear-facing (stage 1): under 1 year of age or less than 20 pounds
  • Forward-facing (stage 2): between age 1 to 3, or more than 20 pounds
  • Booster (stage 3): between 4-8 years old, under 4 feet 9 inches
  • Seat belt (stage 4): 9-12 years old, or over the age of 12 and less than 4 feet 9 inches

Plus, children between 13 and 15 years old should be secured with a seat belt as well. Actually, as long as a child grows big enough to fit the seat belt properly.

Best Car Seats to Work with Tennessee Laws

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

$24.99*

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.

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