Understanding the Booster Seat Laws in Texas

Texas requires all children under 8 to ride in a properly sized and installed child safety seat until they are at least 4’9”.
Written by Stephanie Southmayd
Edited by Jessica Barrett
In Texas, children under the age of 8 or less than 4’9” have to use a booster seat and be properly buckled in.
  • According to
    Texas’s traffic laws
    , children under 8 or less than 4’9” in height must ride in a properly sized and installed booster/car seat.
  • You can be fined $25 to $250 for breaking the booster seat laws.
  • A violation on your driving record can mean higher
    Texas insurance costs
    down the road.

Children under 8 years old must sit in a booster seat in Texas

The Texas Traffic Code requires all kids under the age of 8 to sit in a child safety restraint system in the back seat of the car until they are taller than 4 feet and 9 inches. 
All children must also be buckled in with a seatbelt—regardless of whether they’re using a booster seat or not.

You’ll be fined if you break the Texas car seat laws  

Drivers who violate Texas’s booster seat laws will be fined $25 to $250 for the misdemeanor. Subsequent violations could result in more severe charges with heavier penalties.
In addition to a fine, you’ll end up with a violation on your Texas driving record. This can lead to higher
car insurance premiums
since insurance companies will consider you a higher risk to insure.
  • According to the Houston Police Department, every day in the US an unrestrained child under the age of 5 dies in a car accident.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for children over 1. A car seat safety system significantly increases your child’s chances of surviving a car crash.   

How to safely install a booster seat

The car seat you need will depend greatly on the height, weight, and age of your child. To help you choose the best car seat, the state of Texas provides the following recommendations based on a child’s age, height limit, and weight limit:
Child age
Type of car seat
Height or weight limit
Newborn to 2 years old
Rear-facing car seat
Follow manufacturer’s restrictions
Over 2 years old
Front-facing harness car seat
Once they’ve exceeded rear-facing car seat limitations and until they exceed current manufacturer restrictions
4 to 8 years old
Belt-positioning booster seat
Once they’ve exceeded front-facing harness car seat limitations and until they are 4’9” or taller
8 to 12 years old
Belt-positioning booster seat
Until they are 4’9” or taller
Always check the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure your car seat matches your child’s needs. You can also go to your local Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) office for a free car seat check—find your nearest location on
Remember: An improperly installed child car seat is illegal in Texas and can result in serious injury, so read the instructions carefully and get help if you need it!


Most children can switch from a rear-facing to a backless forward-facing car seat—a seat without back or head support—when they turn 5 or 6 years of age, or once they weigh around 40 pounds. 
That said, experts recommend that children sit in a high-back model for as long as possible because it offers superior protection against injury by positioning the seatbelt against the child’s shoulders, collar bones, and pelvis—their strongest bones. Later, these seats can usually be converted into backless models for older children.
Make sure you find a booster seat that positions your child with their knees comfortably fitted over the edge of the vehicle seat. If you’re buying a used seat, check that it hasn’t passed the expiration date—you can usually find this on a label affixed to the seat or in the safety seat manufacturer’s guide.
Finally, check the car seat for a sticker marked FMVSS 213. This tag means your booster seat meets the child passenger safety requirements for young children up to 80 pounds. 
Yes. According to
Texas’s seatbelt laws
, everyone in the car must wear a seatbelt—no matter their age or whether your child is already sitting in a child passenger safety seat system.
As long as your child is over 4’9” and older than 13, they are legally allowed to sit in the front seat of the car. A child who is under that height limit or younger than 13 could face serious injury or death if the airbags are active on the passenger side. 
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