If you have a little one on board in Ohio, state law requires you to keep him in a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt until age 15. While no specific language in the law exists that addresses kids riding in the front seat in Ohio, child safety seats are designed for use in a vehicle's back seat. Research also shows that children are safer when they ride in the back of the car, so it is best to keep your child in the back seat as long as possible.
Child Safety Seats
Ohio's child restraint law requires all children under age 4 or weighing less than 40 pounds to ride in a child safety seat. This means that a 5-year-old child who tops the scale at 35 pounds will need to stay in a child safety seat, even though he is old enough to use a booster. The Ohio Department of Public Safety recommends keeping kids in a rear-facing seat until they reach at least 20 pounds and their 1st birthday.
Booster Seat Requirements
Once your child reaches his 4th birthday or weighs more than 40 pounds, Ohio law requires him to use a booster seat unless he is 4 feet, 9 inches or taller. He must sit in a booster seat until age 8 or until he reaches the height limit. The law applies to anyone who transports your child, including grandparents and babysitters, so you will need to buy an extra booster seat, or switch it out if your child rides in a different car.
Penalties for Violations
If you are stopped for not having your child in the right seat or safely buckled up, as of 2013, you can expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $75 for a first offense, which is classified as a minor misdemeanor. A repeat violation could cost you up to $250 and might land you in jail for a month. These violations stay on your record as fourth-degree misdemeanors.
Riding in Front
Unless he is already taller than 4 feet, 9 inches, your child can move to the front seat as long as he has reached his 8th birthday and weighs more than 40 pounds. Under Ohio law, he is required to wear his seat belt until the age of 15. Even if your child meets the age and weight requirements to ride up front, injury prevention specialists at Akron Children's Hospital recommend keeping your child in a back seat booster to make sure the seat belt sits properly across his body.