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Seat Belt Laws by State 2023

Why Are Seat Belts Important?

Seat belts save lives. Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected from a vehicle or hitting the interior of a vehicle during a vehicle accident. When seat belts are worn properly, they are designed to spread crash forces across stronger parts of the body, such as the shoulder, rib cage, and pelvis.

For drivers and front-seat passengers, using a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 60% in an SUV, van, or pickup truck and by 45% in a car. Occupants in a vehicle increase the risk of injury or death to other occupants in the vehicle by 40%.

Seat belts save an estimated 15,000 lives each year and could have saved an additional estimated 2,500 lives if everyone correctly used their seat belt. Nearly half of people who die in vehicle crashes are not wearing seat belts.

Seat belt laws increase seat belt use. Seat belt laws are created to protect the lives of drivers and their passengers.

Primary vs. Secondary Enforcement

In all 50 states except New Hampshire, failure to wear a seat belt is a misdemeanor. In 34 of those states and the District of Columbia, a driver can be pulled over just for not wearing a seatbelt. This is primary enforcement.

The other 15 states with seat belt laws have secondary enforcement, meaning that if a driver gets pulled over for something else, he/she can also get in trouble for not wearing a seat belt. The driver cannot be pulled over by law enforcement and cited solely for not wearing a seat belt in secondary enforcement states, the motorist must be pulled over for another violation first.

Alabama

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 15 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $25

Alaska

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 16 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $15 ($25 actual)

Arizona

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 8 and over in front seats; ages 8 to 15 in all seats
  • Base fine: $10 ($37.20 actual)

Arkansas

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 15 and over in front seats
  • Base fine: $25

California

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 16 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $20 ($162 actual), $50 for a second offense ($190 actual)

Colorado

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 16 and over in front seats
  • Primary enforcement for those under 18 years of age
  • Base fine: $71

Connecticut

  • Primary Enforcement
  • Applies to ages 8 and over in seats
  • Base fine: $92 for drivers and passengers over 18, $120 for drivers and passengers under 18

Delaware

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 16 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $25

District of Columbia

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 16 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $50

Florida

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 6 and over in the front seat; 6-17 in all seats
  • Base fine: $30 ($116 actual)

Georgia

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 8-17 in all seats; 18+ in front seat
  • Base fine: $15

Hawaii

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to age 8 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $45 ($112 actual)

Idaho

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 7 and over in all seats
  • Primary enforcement for drivers under the age of 18
  • Base fine: $10 ($51.50 actual)

Illinois

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 16 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $25 minimum

Indiana

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 16 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $25

Iowa

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to all ages in front seats
  • Base fine: $25 ($127.50 actual)

Kansas

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 14+ in all seats
  • Base fine: $30

Kentucky

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 7 and younger and more than 57 inches tall in all seats; 8 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $25

Louisiana

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 13 and over all seats
  • Base fine: $50

Maine

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 18 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $50

Maryland

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 16 and under in all seats, over 16 in the front seat
  • Secondary enforcement for ages 16 and up in the rear seats
  • Base fine: $83

Massachusetts

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 13 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $25

Michigan

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 16 and over in front seats
  • Base fine: $25 ($65 actual)

Minnesota

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 7 and younger and more than 57 inches in all seats; 8 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $25 + $75 fee

Mississippi

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 7 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $25

Missouri

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Applies to age 16 and over in front seats; ages 8-15 in all seats
  • Base fine: $10 for ages 16 and over; $50 for ages 8-15

Montana

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 6 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $20

Nebraska

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 18 and over in fronts seats
  • Base fine: $25

Nevada

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Ages 6 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $25

New Hampshire

  • No enforcement for adults; primary enforcement for minors only
  • Applies to ages 17 and under in all seats
  • Base fine: $50

New Jersey

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 7 and younger and more than 57 inches in all seats; 8 and over in all seats
  • Secondary enforcement in the rear seat
  • Base fine: $46

New Mexico

  • Primary enforcement
  • Ages 18 and older in all seats
  • Base fine: $25

New York

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to all riders in all seats
  • Base fine: $50 ($135 actual)

North Carolina

  • Primary enforcement; secondary for backseat
  • Applies to ages 16 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $179 for the front seat; $10 for rear seat

North Dakota

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 18 and over in front seats; under 18
  • Base fine; $20 for ages 18 and over; $25 + 1 point on license for under 18

Ohio

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Ages 15 and over in front seat; 8-14 in all seats
  • Base fine: $30 for the driver; $20 for the passenger

Oklahoma

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 13 and over in fronts seats
  • Base fine: $20

Oregon

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to all ages in all seats
  • Base fine: $115

Pennsylvania

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Ages 18 and over in front seats; age 8-17 in all seats
  • Base fine: $10

Rhode Island

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 8 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $40

South Carolina

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 8 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $25

South Dakota

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 18 and over in front seats
  • Base fine: $25

Tennessee

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 16 and over in front seats
  • Base fine: $30

Texas

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 7 and under and 57 inches and taller in all seats; ages 8 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $200 if under 17 (driver); $50 if over (any person in the car)

Utah

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 16 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $45 for a second offense

Vermont

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Applies to all ages in all seats
  • Base fine: $25

Virginia

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Applies to all drivers; ages 18 and over in front seats; under 18 in all seats
  • Base fine: $25

Washington

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 16 and over and at least 4’9" in all seats
  • Base fine: $124

West Virginia

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 8-17 in rear seats
  • Base fine: $25

Wisconsin

  • Primary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 8 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $10

Wyoming

  • Secondary enforcement
  • Applies to ages 9 and over in all seats
  • Base fine: $25 for the driver, $10 for the passenger

Seat Belt Laws by State 2023

Seat Belt Laws by State 2023

Sources