We are mom-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission.

Tennessee Car Seat Laws in 2021


A child up to one year old and weighing up to twenty pounds must use a rear-facing child passenger restraint system in a rear seat, if available. A child between one and three years old and weighing more than twenty pounds must use a forward-facing child passenger restraint system in a rear seat, if available. A child between the ages of four and eight years old and under 4’9” tall must use a belt-positioning booster seat system in a rear seat, if available. A child between the ages of nine and twelve years old, or up to twelve years old and 4’9” or taller, must use a seat belt system. A child between the ages of thirteen and fifteen years old must use a passenger restraint system, including a safety belt. A child between the ages of sixteen and seventeen years old must use a safety belt.

Babies and Children Up to One Year Old and Weighing Twenty Pounds or Less

A child up to one year old and weighing twenty pounds or less must properly use a rear-facing child passenger restraint system meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards in a rear seat if available or according to the child safety restraint system or vehicle’s manufacturer’s instructions when being transported in a motor vehicle upon Tennessee’s roads, streets, or highways.

Children One to Three Years Old and Weighing More Than Twenty Pounds

A child between the ages of one and three years old and weighing more than twenty pounds must properly use a forward-facing child passenger restraint system meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards in a rear seat if available or according to the child safety restraint system or vehicle’s manufacturer’s instructions when being transported in a motor vehicle upon Tennessee’s roads, streets, or highways.

Children Four to Eight Years Old and Under 4’9” Tall

A child between the ages of four and eight years old and under 4’9” tall must properly use a belt-positioning booster seat system meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards in a rear seat if available or according to the child safety restraint system or vehicle’s manufacturer’s instructions when being transported in a passenger motor vehicle upon Tennessee’s roads, streets, or highways.

Children Nine to Twelve Years Old or Up to Twelve Years Old and 4’9” or Taller

A child between the ages of nine and twelve years old, or up to twelve years old and 4’9” or taller, must properly use a seat belt system meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards when being transported in a passenger motor vehicle upon Tennessee’s roads, streets, or highways. It is recommended that the child be placed in a rear seat if available.

Children Thirteen to Fifteen Years Old

A child between the ages of thirteen and fifteen years old must properly use a passenger restraint system, including a safety belt, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards when being transported in a passenger motor vehicle upon Tennessee’s roads, streets, or highways. It is recommended that the child be placed in a rear seat if available.

Children Sixteen to Seventeen Years Old

A child between the ages of sixteen and seventeen years old must be restrained by a safety belt at all times the vehicle is in forward motion when operating or being transported as a passenger in any seat in a passenger motor vehicle. A passenger motor vehicle is any motor vehicle required by federal law to be equipped with safety belts, with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating of ten thousand pounds or less, that is not used as a public or livery conveyance for passengers.

Penalties for Violations

For a violation of Tennessee’s child passenger restraint systems law involving a child under nine years old, which is a Class C misdemeanor, you may be sentenced to up to thirty days in jail, fined up to $50.00, or both. For a first offense, you may be required to pay for and attend a court-approved class on the hazards of not properly transporting children in motor vehicles in addition to, or as a substitute for, jail time and a fine.

For a violation of Tennessee’s child passenger restraint systems law involving a child between nine and fifteen years old, you may pay a fine of $50.00 instead of appearing in court. You may be issued one citation for a violation per vehicle per occasion.

Exemptions

Your child may be exempt from Tennessee’s child passenger restraint systems law if he or she cannot be safely transported in a conventional child passenger restraint system; he or she uses a specially modified, professionally manufactured restraint system; and you present a copy of a prescription signed by a physician authorizing the professional manufacture of the specially modified child passenger restraint system to the arresting officer or the court.

* Ms. Blake is licensed in the state of Maryland. The information provided in this article does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Attorney Denise A. Blake*
Attorney Denise A. Blake*

Denise practices family law at Blake Law, LLC in Westminster, Maryland. She holds a Juris Doctor with an emphasis in Family Law from the University of Baltimore School of Law.