Montana Car Seat Laws 2022 (Rear, Forward & Booster)

montana car seat laws

Montana car seat laws are pretty straightforward. Every child under the age of 6 years and weighing less than 60 pounds must be placed in an appropriate child safety restraint system. A child who cannot be placed in a child restraint system because of a physical or medical condition or body size is exempt from this law.

Disclaimer: The content in this article does not, in any manner, constitute legal advice. It is solely for the purpose of providing information. The law is amended from time to time and the information in this article may not always be up to date. We recommend you check the original source of the law.

Montana Car Seat Laws

Montana Rear-Facing Car Seat Law

There is no specific rear-facing car seat law in Montana. (1) It simply states that children under 6 years of age and weighing less than 60 pounds must travel in a child restraint system unless they are exempt.

Instead, Montana state law requires caregivers to follow the manufacturer’s height and weight standards for choosing an appropriate car seat. 

Since there is no clear Montana rear-facing child seat law, you should follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The AAP recommends that an infant must ride in a rear-facing car seat as long as the limits set by the manufacturer permit. The rear-facing car seat age in Montana is not prescribed. It is better if children ride rear-facing till they are 3 years old. 

If there is no proper child restraint, you can be fined a maximum of $100. (2)

Age: Newborn to 3 years (recommended)
Weight: Less than 60 pounds
Penalty: Misdemeanor charge, fine of a maximum of $100

Montana Forward-Facing Car Seat Law

There is no forward-facing car seat law in Montana. All children younger than 6 years and weighing less than 60 pounds must be placed in an appropriate child passenger safety system.

This does not apply to children who cannot be restrained due to a physical or medical condition or body size. (1) You can be fined a maximum of $100 for violating the law. (2)

In the absence of a Montana forward-facing child seat law, you should follow the guidelines prescribed by the car seat manufacturer. The AAP recommends that children ride in a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the height and weight limits prescribed by the manufacturer. 

The forward-facing car seat age in Montana is absent. But children should ride in a forward-facing car seat till they are 7 years old or till they outgrow it. 

Age: 3 to 7 years (recommended)
Weight: Less than 60 pounds
Penalty: Misdemeanor charge, fine of a maximum of $100

Montana Booster Seat Law

There is no express child booster seat law in Montana. The general law requires all children, except those with issues relating to a physical or medical condition or body size, under 6 years of age and weighing less than 60 pounds to be placed in an appropriate child restraint system. (1) 

Though the booster seat age in Montana is absent, children can ride boosters once they have outgrown the height and weight limits of their forward-facing seats.

The NHTSA recommends that they ride on booster sets till they are 12 years old or big enough to wear the seatbelt. You can get a high-back or backless booster seat depending on your child’s requirements. 

Violating Montana booster seat requirements carries a misdemeanor charge and a fine of a maximum of $100. (2)

Age: 8 to 12 years (recommended)
Weight: Less than 60 pounds
Penalty: Misdemeanor charge, fine of a maximum of $100

Montana Child Front Seat Law

There is no child front seat law in Montana but a general car seat law. (1) The AAP recommends that children sit in the back seat till they are at least 13 years old. The backseat is the safest place for kids younger than 13 years. 

If you have to place the child in the front seat, ensure that the car seat is appropriate for their height and weight requirements. You must deactivate the front passenger-side airbag. A breach of the child seat requirements in Montana can attract a fine of a maximum of $100. (2)

Since the front seat age in Montana is not prescribed by the law, it is best to follow the AAP recommendations. Even though it is not technically illegal, you should not place a child younger than 13 years in the front seat. 

Age: 13 years or older (recommended) 
Penalty: Maximum $100

Montana Child Seat Belt Law

According to the child seat belt law in Montana, every person in the vehicle, whether in the front seat or backseat, must wear a seatbelt unless exempted. (3) The car seat laws in Montana allow children older than 6 years and weighing more than 60 pounds to use an adult safety belt. (1)

However, the adult seat belt is properly designed to fit people who are at least 4’9” tall and can sit straight. The AAP recommends that children stay in a booster seat till they fulfill these requirements. 

Not wearing a seat belt as per Montana children’s seat belt law carries a fine of a maximum of $100. (2) But even though seat belt rules in Montana are broad, it is better to follow the AAP guidelines and use a booster seat till the child is old enough for the seat belt. 

Age: 8-12 years (recommended) 
Height: 4’9” or taller (recommended)
Penalty: Maximum $100

Montana Taxi Child Seat Law

According to the taxi child seat law in Montana, taxicabs are exempt from having a child passenger safety system. (4) Even then, it is safer to carry children in an appropriate car seat.

Since the driver is not liable to carry a taxi child seat in Montana, it is the duty of the parent/caregiver to carry one. You can refer to the NHTSA recommendations to choose the most appropriate car seat. 

While infants must travel in a rear-facing seat, toddlers and young children can ride in a forward-facing or booster seat. You can even carry an all-in-one car seat that can change into all three types of seats, depending on your requirements. 

It is your responsibility as a parent/caregiver to install the seat correctly. Violating the Montana car seat regulations will get you a penalty of a maximum $100. 

Montana Ridesharing Child Seat Law

The ridesharing child seat law in Montana is not clear. Montana child seat laws simply state that children younger than 6 years and weighing less than 60 pounds must be restrained in an appropriate child seat. (1)

Only those who cannot be placed in a restraint system due to a physical or medical condition or body size are exempt. 

The law does not mention rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft. To be safe, either the caregiver or driver should carry an appropriate car seat. Infants should be placed in rear-facing seats, while toddlers aged 3 to 7 years must be restrained in forward-facing seats.

For older children shorter than 4’9”, you can use a booster seat to prop them up so that the seat belt fits them properly. 

Montana Child Seat Replacement Law

There is no specific child seat replacement law in Montana. But the NHTSA recommends replacing the child safety seat if your vehicle is involved in a moderate or severe accident in Montana. This is because it may have defects that are not visible to the eye. In such scenarios, you must replace the car seat. 

There is no need to replace it after a low-impact accident. Such an accident is one where no vehicle passenger sustains injuries, the vehicle was driven away from the crash site, the airbags didn’t deploy, the door nearest to the car seat was not damaged and there was no visible damage to the car seat.  

In addition to child seat replacement after an accident, you must also replace it after it has passed its expiry date stated by the manufacturer or your child has outgrown it. 

Leaving Child in The Car in Montana

There isn’t any law on leaving a child in a vehicle in Montana. But the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services warns against leaving a child unattended in a vehicle even for a minute. There is a serious danger of the child suffering from a heat stroke, dehydration, abduction, injury, and in worst cases, death. 

Heatstroke is the most common danger as temperatures inside a car can rise quickly. Since children’s body temperature can rise 3-5 times as quickly as adults, they can suffer a permanent disability or die within minutes. 

Even though leaving a child in the car in Montana is technically not illegal, the parents or caregivers can be sued for child neglect if the child suffers an injury. It is best to never leave a child alone in a vehicle. 

Choosing a Child Car Seat in Montana

Following the NHTSA recommendations can make choosing a car seat in Montana easier. The seat should be appropriate for your child’s age, height and weight. 

For infants and toddlers, a rear-facing car seat is the best car seat to use in Montana. When they outgrow them, they can shift to a forward-facing seat. You can even get a convertible seat that works as both. 

The best booster seat to use in Montana is one that allows the seat belt to fit firmly across your child’s shoulders and lap. You can either get a backless or a high-back booster seat or even a versatile all-in-one seat.

Car Seat Installation Help in Montana

Car seat installation can be a complicated task if you have not done it before. You have to refer to the car seat and vehicle manual to understand how to use the lower anchors and seat belts to install the seat.

To simplify the process, Montana has resources where you can get help from a certified child passenger safety (CPS) technician for safe installation. Some of them include:

Montana Car Seat Safety Resources

You can also refer to the following resources for child passenger safety seats in Montana:

FAQ

How long should a child ride in a rear-facing car seat in Montana?

The law does not say it directly. But it is recommended that a child should ride in a rear-facing car seat till the age of 2 years. 

Can you put a rear-facing car seat in the front seat in Montana?

The law is silent but it is best to put a rear-facing car seat in the back. If you do put it in front, ensure that the front seat airbag is deactivated. 

Can you put a rear-facing car seat in the middle rear seat in Montana?

Yes, you can put a rear-facing car seat in the middle seat if your vehicle has lower anchors for the middle seat that can hold the car seat tightly. 

When can a baby face forward in a car seat in Montana?

The law does not specifically mention anything. But the NHTSA recommends that a baby can face forward once they turn 2 years old or outgrow their rear-facing seat.

How old for a booster seat in Montana? 

The law does not mention any particular age. But it is recommended that children from 8 to 12 years of age ride in a booster seat. 

When to use a backless booster seat in Montana? 

You can use a backless booster seat only if your vehicle seat has a head rest and the child’s ears are not higher than the seat back. 

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

There is no specific age under the law. However, the AAP recommends that children younger than 13 years ride in the backseat as it is the safest. 

When can a child sit in the front seat with a booster in Montana?

Children in a booster seat should ride in the back seat. But if required, the booster seat can be placed in front with the seat’s airbag deactivated.

When can a child stop using a booster seat in Montana?

A child can legally stop using a booster seat after they turn 6. However, it is suggested to use a booster till they are big enough for the seat belt. 

When to switch from 5 point harness to a seat belt in Montana?

A child older than 6 years can wear a seat belt under Montana law. But they should ideally switch when they outgrow the 5-point harness. 

When can a child use a regular seat belt in Montana?

A child older than 6 years can wear a seat belt under Montana law. However, it is recommended that they be at least 4’9” tall before they switch to a seatbelt.

Do you need a car seat in a taxi in Montana?

Taxicabs are not required to have a car seat. But the parent/caregiver should carry an appropriate car seat for the child’s safety.

Do you need a car seat in a Uber in Montana?

The law is unclear on this issue. But either the caregiver or the driver should provide a federally approved and appropriate car seat to ensure the child’s safety. 

Do you need a car seat in a Lyft in Montana? 

The law is not clear on this issue. But either the caregiver or the driver should provide a federally approved and appropriate car seat to ensure the child’s safety.

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