The South Carolina car seat law was last updated  in May 2017.

The updated child passenger safety law states that babies under age 2 must travel in a rear-facing car seat until they max out the height or weight limit of the seat (according to the manufacturer).

Children who are at least 2 years old (or who have reaching the upper height or weight limit of their rear-facing car seat) may ride in a forward facing car seat (with a harness) in the back seat until they reach the upper height or weight limit of that seat.

Once kids outgrow their forward-facing car seat (according to the manufacturer’s height and weight limits) AND are at least 4 years old, they can ride in a booster seat in the back seat. (Always use the lap AND shoulder belt when using a booster seat. Never use just a lap belt with a booster seat.)

Kids who are 8 or older and 57 inches tall or more can ride using just a seat belt, as long as it fits correctly. See our booster seat page for a quick fit test.

The law also states that kids under 8 must ride in the back seat, unless there isn’t one, or if the back seat is full of younger kids.  Kids must still use the appropriate car seat or booster seat, even if riding in the front seat.


is unsual in that it only requires kids age 5 and under to ride in the back seat (if there is one) and to sit in a child safety seat. This is well below the more common age of 7. In South Carolina, a child who weights 80 pounds, even if under age 6, may ride using just an adult seat belt.

South Carolina’s car seat laws use weight and age to determine which type of car seat is appropriate. These are less than the recommended best practices by safety experts, though.

Please check out the links below for more details on the law in South Carolina.  The Parent’s Central link has some great information on safety recommendations, too.

State and Local Resources for South Carolina Car Seat Law

South Carolina Department of Public Safety – car seat law and fine

South Carolina State House General Assembly – the revised bill text

Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital – Buckle Buddies car seat and booster seat recommendations

Think First South Carolina – Car seat and booster seat fit information

Children’s Trust of South Carolina – car seat installation and fit tips plus recommendations for use

CBS TV story on a March 1016 bill to make South Carolina car seat laws more strict

State and National Resources for links to North Carolina Car Seat and Booster Seat Law  – U.S. Department of Transportation / National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website – The NHTSA publishes this site. Parents Central is the child safety section. This is a great info packed site, so if you have questions about almost anything related to car seats or booster seats, definitely check this one out. – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, child safety page – A global organization about keeping children safe, especially from preventable injuries or fatalities. Their site includes tips on car seat choice and car seat inspection events, among other things.