State laws require that children must sit in a booster seat while riding in vehicles until they reach a certain height or weight. These laws vary by state, so be sure to check with your department of transportation before allowing your child to ride without a booster seat. Additionally, check the maximum height and weight limits for your child's booster seat to determine if he needs a larger size.
Twenty-one states have height requirements that must be met before children can legally ride without a booster seat. Of these states, the minimum heights are 36 inches (Texas) and 50 inches (Kentucky). Seventeen states tie for the maximum height requirement of 57 inches. Two states, Hawaii and South Dakota, have no booster seat requirements. These states leave vehicle safety decisions up to the parents or caregivers of each individual child.
Twenty-four states have weight requirements for children riding in booster seats. The minimum weight requirement for ceasing booster seat use is 18.1 Kilogram, a law held in both Ohio and Georgia. The states with the highest weight requirement, 36.3 Kilogram, include Kansas, New Jersey, and eight other states. Most states have a height or a weight requirement, but some have laws regarding both. For states requiring both, some mandate that a child must meet the height AND weight requirement before being allowed to ride without a car seat; others have laws that state a child must meet the height OR weight requirement.
In addition to height and weight requirements, every state but Hawaii, Louisiana, and South Dakota has age requirements for booster seat usage. Alaska permits children to ride without a booster seat after age four; Arizona, Florida, and Texas require a booster seat until age five. Every other state has booster seat requirements for children ages six and above, with the maximum age being eight in 23 states. Again, when in doubt about the laws for children in your state, contact a transportation official, and always err on the side of caution.