This article on Alabama Car Seat Laws has been written with references from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration websites.
It is simplified in bullet points to highlight applicable sections. For more details or full references, check the links provided.
Alabama Car Seat Laws
What does the Alabama child seat laws say?
- A child passenger restraint system that meets federal safety standards and the following requirements must be used in a motor vehicle (passenger car, pickup truck, van with sitting capacity of 10 or less, minivan or sports utility vehicle);
- A rear-facing-only car seat or a rear-facing convertible car seat for infants less than 12 months old or less than 20 lbs.
- A forward-facing convertible car seat or forward-facing car seat for toddlers and preschoolers between 1-5 years old or less than 40 lbs.
- A booster seat for school-aged children under 6 years.
- Seat belts for school-aged children and adolescents up to 15 years old.
More on The Law & Fines
- A fine of $25 for each offence shall apply for violating the child restraints law in Alabama.
- Every person riding with a child must be responsible for ensuring a child is properly restrained in a car seat.
Alabama Rear Facing Law
The law explicitly mentions an “infant rear-facing-only and rear-facing convertible car seat” as a type of child passenger restraint system that must be used in a car.
Therefore, you must ensure you use the right type of car seat for your baby under 12 months old or less than 20 lbs.
This is also in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of using a rear-facing infant car safety seat for as long as possible. However, AAP further recommends up to 2 years of age.
Alabama Forward Facing Law
The Alabama car seat laws also mention “forward-facing and forward-facing convertible car seat” as a type of child passenger restraint system that can be used in a car.
This type of car seat is to be used for your toddlers and preschoolers between the ages of 1-5 years or less than 40 lbs.
A convertible car seat offers you more as you can use it longer than an infant seat. You can convert a convertible car seat from rear-facing to forward-facing as your child grows.
Alabama Booster Seat Law
Alabama booster seat law allow a booster seat to be used for only school-aged children less than 6 years old but more than 5 years.
That is, you are only allowed to use a booster seat for less than a year (5-6 years old).
In this case, if you live in Alabama, I will recommend you start with an all-in-one car seat. This type of seat can be used as rear-facing, forward-facing, or as a booster car seat.
Also, note that an all-in-one seat is usually bigger than the other seat types and may not fit in a small car. Here are the best car seats for small cars, and here is the best value all-in-one car seat for the money.
Other Alabama Car Seat Laws You Should Know
Other Passengers in a Car
- Each front seat occupant (driver and front-seat passenger) of a passenger car must have a safety seat belt properly fastened about their body at all times when the vehicle is in motion.
Alabama Front Seat Law – Can A Child Sit in The Front Seat?
A child must ride in a restraint system (rear-facing, forward-facing, convertibles or booster seat), which should be used in the back seat.
The Alabama front seat law do not permit a child to sit in the front seat.
It is also not safe to install a car seat in the front seat. The center rear is the safest position to install a car seat. That is because if the front passenger airbag is activated and there is a car crash, the pressure from the inflated airbag will hit the back of a rear-facing infant seat where your baby’s head will be resting and can cause serious injury and even death.
On the other hand, children under 13 years must ride in the back seat and use a seat belt. Above 13 years, they can start to ride in the front seat with a safety belt properly fastened.
An exception may apply for a single cab truck as they don’t have a back seat. However, there are further guidelines that must be followed such as switching off the airbag, and ensuring there are suitable installation features for the car seat in the truck.
For Taxis in Alabama
The Alabama child seat laws does not apply for taxis and motor vehicles with a seating capacity of 11 or more passengers in Alabama.
- “the provisions shall not apply to taxis and all motor vehicles with a seating capacity of 11 or more passengers.”
In a situation where you need to use a taxi, cab or uber, I’ll recommend you learn how to install a car seat without base. It would help if you had this knowledge for such a situation.
More so, it is safe and legal to do that is why manufacturers teach you how to in the car seat manual.
Leaving a Child Alone in Your Car in Alabama
There is the “hot car law” that is practiced in Alabama that prohibits leaving kids or animals unattended to in a car.
Therefore, you can’t leave a child under 8 years old alone in a car in Alabama unless the vehicle has an ambient interior temperature of less than 99 degrees Fahrenheit.
Smoking Around Children in Cars
The state of Alabama has passed a bill that makes it illegal to smoke in a car with children under 14 years.
Violation of the law attracts a fine of up to $100.
This was as of February 2020.
Getting Help – Car Seat Inspection in Alabama
Here are go-to resources for more help – car seat inspection and more
A guide on car seat inspection – here
NHTSA car seat inspection directory – here
Monthly car seat clinics by Alabama Public Health – here