Tennessee Car Seat Laws (2024) – 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 Rear-facing Car Seat Laws


Tennessee Forward facing Car Seat Rules


Tennessee Booster Seat Laws

Front Seat Laws

When can child sit in front seat in Tennessee

Car Seats List

Best car seat to meet Tennessee laws

US Car Seat Laws

Seat Laws across the United States

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

Based on the Tennessee child car seat laws, here are the best car seats that will ride your boys or girls safely without breaking the rules.

To help parents quickly find the best option based on your child’s current age, this list is made by age.

Newborn - 2 Years Old

Rear-facing car seats

Birth - 4 Years Old

Convertible car seats for use

4-8 Years Old

Booster seats for use

With Special Functions

Car seats with Unique Features

Birth - 2 Years

30-lb rear-facing maximum weight

Further Information

Best Car Seats for One Year Old

Birth - 4 Years

4-8 Years

  • Best to Fit 3 Across – Diono Radian 3R
  • Best with backless booster – Graco 4Ever DLX
Diono Cambria 2 XL

The Diono Cambria 2 XL combines a highback and backless booster into one. It provides spacious room for growing big kids.

Diono Cambria 2 XL

The Good
The Bad

Car Seats with Unique Functions

For Travel

Further Information

Best car seat with wheels

Slim Fit to Do 3 Across


Car seat with 5-point harness

Further Information

Best purple car seats for girls