New Hampshire Car Seat Laws – All You Need to Know

New Hampshire Car Seat Laws - All You Need to Know

Here’s the bad news: according to NHTSA, 51% of those killed in a car crash in 2020 were unrestrained.

The good news is that car seats and seat belts are always available — all you have to do is wear them properly!

This is why, here, we’re going to focus on the New Hampshire car seat laws, as well as the seat belt laws (DISCLAIMER! There are no seat belt laws).

This way, you not only ensure safety for everyone, but you avoid facing the penalties, too. 

So are you ready?
Let’s get started!

Car Seat Laws in New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, those below 18 years old are required to wear a seat belt or a booster seat.

As for children below 7 years old, they must be fastened in a child safety restraint that is recommended for their age and height. 

These laws are a bit vague, aren’t they?

While the law doesn’t specify what to use, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recommendations for optimum safety.

Let’s go over these recommendations.

  • For babies 1-3 years old, it’s a must that they’re placed in a rear-facing car seat. This is so, if a collision happens, the child’s body is fully protected. Just make sure to check if the age and weight requirements of the car seat match your child. 
  • For children 4-7 years old, place them in a forward-facing car seat. Make sure that it has a harness and your child is within the manufacturer’s car seat weight and height limits. 
  • For children 8-12 years old, use a booster seat that fits them perfectly. The seat belt on it should feel snug on their bodies and is just over the upper thigh. The shoulder belt should lie on top of the shoulder and chest. 
  • For teens 13-18 years old, they can already use a seat belt. However, if it does not snugly fit them, it’s best to use a booster seat until they are tall enough. 

Car Seat Penalties in New Hampshire

If you violate any of the car seat laws, you will be fined $50 on the first offense. If you violate these laws a second time, the fine will be $100. 

Now, while these fines are not harsh compared to other states’ fines, this doesn’t mean that you can risk your child’s safety. 

Always place your child in the right safety restraint system. 

Seat Belt Law in New Hampshire

What about seat belts? 

We already saw that, if you’re below 18 years old but older than 12, you are required to wear a seat belt, whether you’re the driver, in the passenger seat, or at the back.  

What about those 18 years old and above?

New Hampshire is the only state that does not have a seat belt law for adults. 

That said, you are still highly encouraged to wear one. Remember, wearing a seat belt reduces the chances of getting seriously injured or dying in a car crash. 

Of course, this implies that you are wearing the seat belt properly:

  • The harness is fastened tightly on the lock. 
  • The harness feels snug right on top of your body. 
  • The shoulder strap is across your shoulders and chest. It isn’t strapped at the back of the seat.
  • The lap belt is placed just across the hips. It doesn’t fall to your thighs or on top of your stomach. 

Importance of Safety Restraints

Why are car seats and seat belts important?

Aside from the fact that there’s already a statistic that 51% of those who died in a car crash didn’t wear safety restraints, there are other reasons why you should wear them.

Let’s go through these reasons: 

  • They prevent you from being flung out of the car in a big collision. If you are flung out of the car, you may get serious injuries hitting other vehicles, trees, or signs on the road. 
  • Airbags are not there to keep you seated. They only prevent you from hitting the windshield or the dashboard. 
  • A seat belt keeps you in place, preventing you from hitting the sides of the car. 
  • Car seats provide extra protection to your child since they will remain in their place during a collision. 
  • Car seats keep your children from distracting you. Distracted drivers have a high chance of hitting somebody or something on the road. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Got some questions about New Hampshire’s car seat and seat belt laws? Check out these FAQs for more information. 

Why does New Hampshire have no seat belt law?

New Hampshire is the only state that does not implement a seat belt law. 

And despite proposing a few seat belt bills, all were shot down. 

The reason?

It’s hard to say. But people argue that the government cannot force you to wear a seat belt. So maybe this is why the state’s legislators decided to ignore it. 

You wear your seat belt if you want to ensure safety. You don’t wear your seat belt if you want to risk your life.

It’s your choice. 

Can an 8-year-old sit in the front seat in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire doesn’t have laws prohibiting 8-year-olds from sitting in the front seat. That said, we recommend placing their booster seat at the back for more protection during a crash. 

Are people in the front seat required to wear seat belts in New Hampshire?

There are no laws requiring adults to wear seat belts, whether they’re in front or not. However, if the person is below 18 years old, they have to wear a seat belt, whether in the front or even the back. 

How old do you have to be in a booster seat in NH?

The state doesn’t have a specific law mentioning that you have to be a certain age to be in a booster seat. However, the NHTSA recommends that 8 to 12-year-olds use a booster seat as seat belts might not snugly fit them just yet. 


That was all you needed to know about the New Hampshire car seat laws and (no) seat belt laws.

As you probably noticed, the state isn’t too strict about safety restraints. 

But if you want to be a responsible and safe driver, then always use the proper child safety restraint and seat belt. 

Remember, it’s lives you’re putting at risk. 

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