Seat Belts

Seat belt laws are divided into two categories: primary and secondary. Primary seat belt laws allow law enforcement officers to ticket a driver or passenger for not wearing a seat belt, without any other traffic offense taking place. Secondary seat belt laws state that law enforcement officers may issue a ticket for not wearing a seat belt only when there is another citable traffic infraction.

  • 34 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have primary seat belt laws for front seat occupants.
  • 15 states have secondary laws for adult front seat occupants.
  • 30 states, D.C., and 2 territories have laws enforcing rear seat belt use. Of these:
    • 19 states, D.C. and 2 territories include rear seats as primary enforcement. All are states that also have primary seat belt laws for front seat occupants.
    • 11 states include rear seats as secondary enforcement. Five of these are states with primary seat belt laws for front seat occupants. Six are states with secondary laws for adult front seat occupants.
  • 20 states do not have laws enforcing rear seat belt use.
    • Of states with primary front seat belt use laws, 11 states and the Virgin Islands do not include rear seats
    • Of states with secondary front seat belt use laws, 9 states do not include rear seats.
  • New Hampshire has enacted neither a primary nor a secondary seat belt law for adults in any seat, although the state does have a primary child passenger safety law that covers all drivers and passengers under 18.

belts
Law Chart

Specific laws vary greatly from state to state, depending on the age of the rider and in what seat he or she is sitting. This page covers seat belt laws for adults and young adults only. For requirements for infants, toddlers, and children, see GHSA's Child Passenger Safety Laws chart.

A PDF chart of state seat belt laws is available for download here.

NOTE: GHSA does not compile any additional data on adult seat belt laws other than what is presented here. For more information, consult the appropriate State Highway Safety Office.

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and State Highway Safety Offices.

  • Alabama

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    15 and over

    In What Seat?

    Front (secondary enforcement in rear seat)

  • Alaska

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    16 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • American Samoa

    No data

  • Arizona

    Type of Law

    Secondary

    Who Is Covered?

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    8-15 yrs: All

    8 and over: Front

  • Arkansas

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    15 and over

    In What Seat?

    Front

  • California

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    16 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Colorado

    Type of Law

    Secondary

    Who Is Covered?

    16 and over (primary law for under 18)

    In What Seat?

    Front

  • Connecticut

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    Front

  • Delaware

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    16 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

    *Note: Delaware's seat belt law is a civil penalty

  • District of Columbia

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    16 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Florida

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    6 and over

    In What Seat?

    6-17 yrs: All

    6 and over: Front

  • Georgia

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    8 and older

    In What Seat?

    8-17 yrs: All

    18 and over: Front

  • Guam

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    All riders

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Hawaii

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Idaho

    Type of Law

    Secondary

    Who Is Covered?

    7 and over (primary law for drivers under 18)

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Illinois

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    16 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Indiana

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    16 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Iowa

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    All riders

    In What Seat?

    Front

  • Kansas

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    14 and over

    In What Seat?

    14-17 yrs: All

    18 and over: Front (other seating positions are secondary enforcement)

  • Kentucky

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    7 and under and more than 57 inches

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Louisiana

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    13 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Maine

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    18 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Maryland

    Type of Law

    Primary; Secondary for rear seat occupants

    Who Is Covered?

    16 and over

    In What Seat?

    Under 16 yrs: All 16 yrs and over: Front (secondary enforcement in rear seat)

  • Massachusetts

    Type of Law

    Secondary

    Who Is Covered?

    13 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Michigan

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    16 and over

    In What Seat?

    Front

  • Minnesota

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    7 and younger and over 57 inches

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Mississippi

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    7 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Missouri

    Type of Law

    Secondary; Primary for riders ages 8 through 15

    Who Is Covered?

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    8-15 yrs: All (primary enforcement)

    16 and over: Front

  • Montana

    Type of Law

    Secondary

    Who Is Covered?

    6 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Nebraska

    Type of Law

    Secondary

    Who Is Covered?

    18 and over

    In What Seat?

    Front

  • Nevada

    Type of Law

    Secondary

    Who Is Covered?

    6 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • New Hampshire

    New Hampshire has enacted neither a primary nor a secondary seat belt law for adults, although the state does have a primary child passenger safety law that covers all drivers and passengers under 18.

  • New Jersey

    Type of Law

    Primary; Secondary for rear seat occupants

    Who Is Covered?

    7 and under and more than 57 inches tall

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • New Mexico

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    18 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • New York

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    All riders

    In What Seat?

    Under 16 yrs: All

    Front

  • North Carolina

    Type of Law

    Primary; Secondary for rear seat occupants

    Who Is Covered?

    16 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • North Dakota

    Type of Law

    Secondary; Primary for occupants under 18

    Who Is Covered?

    18 and over

    In What Seat?

    18 and over: Front

    Under 18: All

  • Northern Mariana Islands

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    Over 6

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Ohio

    Type of Law

    Secondary

    Who Is Covered?

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    8-14 yrs: All (primary enforcement)

    15 and over: Front

  • Oklahoma

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    13 and over

    In What Seat?

    Front

  • Oregon

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    All riders

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Pennsylvania

    Type of Law

    Secondary; Primary for occupants ages 8-17

    Who Is Covered?

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    8-17 yrs: All (primary enforcement)

  • Puerto Rico

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    9 and over or 57" and over

    In What Seat?

    n/a

  • Rhode Island

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • South Carolina

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • South Dakota

    Type of Law

    Secondary

    Who Is Covered?

    18 and over

    In What Seat?

    Front

  • Tennessee

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    16 and over

    In What Seat?

    Front

  • Texas

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    7 and under who are over 57"

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Utah

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    Drivers and passengers over 16

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Vermont

    Type of Law

    Secondary; Primary for occupants under 18

    Who Is Covered?

    18 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Virgin Islands

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    All riders

    In What Seat?

    Front

  • Virginia

    Type of Law

    Secondary; Primary for occupants under 18

    Who Is Covered?

    All drivers; passengers 18 and over

    In What Seat?

    Front

    Under 18: All (primary enforcement)

  • Washington

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    Over 16 or over 4'9"

    In What Seat?

    All

  • West Virginia

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    8-17 yrs: Front

  • Wisconsin

    Type of Law

    Primary

    Who Is Covered?

    8 and over

    In What Seat?

    All

  • Wyoming

    Type of Law

    Secondary

    Who Is Covered?

    9 and over

    In What Seat?

    All