South Dakota Car Seat Laws + Seat Belt Law

South Dakota Car Seat Laws + Seat Belt Law

How do you keep your child safe from car crashes?


Using the proper car seat can save children’s lives — as well as prevent severe injuries. 

This is why it’s important to know the South Dakota car seat laws. 

And this is why we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about it. 

Plus, we’ll also talk about the South Dakota seat belt law for adults. 

All of this is to ensure safety for everyone. 

So let’s dive right in!

The Car Seat Laws in South Dakota

car seat seat belt law

According to the law…

“Any driver transporting a child under 5 years old must secure them in the proper child passenger restraint system”. 

Now, many parents believe that there is only one type of car seat — that a single car seat is fine for a child throughout the years.  


There are different types of child passenger restraint systems that you’ll have to use within a child’s lifetime. 

Here is a car seat guide you can consider:

  • Infant seats – To be used for infants under the age of 1 or for children under 20 pounds. These seats face rearward and should decline 30 degrees to offer extra protection to the child.
  • Toddler/convertible car seats – These have been designed for children that weigh less than or equal to 40 pounds. Like infant seats, these are rear-facing seats. If the toddler is 2-3 years old, you can change the car seat into a forward-facing seat. 
  • Booster seats – These are for children 4-8 years old that weigh at least 30 pounds. This is a high seat that allows you to fasten it with a tethered harness or seat belt shoulder strap if there is no shield OR the lap belt if there is a shield. 

Even though you can stop using a car seat when the child is 5 years old, it’s best to use the booster seat until they turn 8 or reach a height of 4 feet and 9 inches. 

This is because a seat belt might not be able to fit a child that is just 5 years old and under the height recommendation. 

In other words, you’re still putting them in danger. 

Car Seat Penalties in South Dakota

In South Dakota, the car seat law is a primary offense. 

This means that a law officer can pull you over if they see an unrestrained child in a moving vehicle. 

If caught, you’ll receive a ticket and have to pay a fine of $25. 

Another thing. 

This penalty will be directed to the driver of the vehicle — whether it is the child’s parent or not, the driver is the one responsible. 

How to Properly Install Car Seats

Using car seats is not just for the sake of obeying the law. 

It’s to make sure that your child is safe. 

And this is why it’s important to know how to install it properly — to make sure that it does the job in case of a car crash. 

Let’s go over the installation process:

Read the Manual

Before you begin, read the car seat manual thoroughly. Each car seat is different, and having a better understanding of the technical features will allow you to get a good fit. Depending on your vehicle and your carrier, you may have to check for compatibility too.

Place the Car Seat in the Rear 

It’s always safest to place the car seat in the back seat. It’s also safer to install it in the middle than the sides. 

Choose the right spot on the rear seats to install the car seat and thread the seat belt through the harness on the car seat. Alternatively, ISOFIX handles/latches may be provided depending on your vehicle.

Tighten the Straps

Ensure that the straps and buckles are adjusted correctly and are tightly fastened in place. The car seat should not move more than an inch in any direction when properly installed.

Check the Angle

Make sure the car seat is at the correct angle for your child’s age and weight, according to the child seat guide above.

For a rear-facing seat (infant seating), the angle should be reclined 30 degrees so that the baby’s head does not flop forward. For a forward-facing seat (toddlers), the angle should be more upright.

South Dakota Seat Belt Law

Let’s move on to safety for adults. 

How do you expect to take care of your child if you don’t ensure safety for yourself as well? 

This is why the South Dakota seat belt law is important, too. 

Now, according to the law…

“All drivers, front seat passengers, and anyone under 18 years old must wear a seat belt in a moving vehicle”. 

So, say you’re above 18 years old and are seated at the back — you don’t have to wear a seat belt?

No, you don’t. 

However, the state highly encourages EVERYONE to wear a seat belt for their own safety. 

Remember, seatbelts are vital to keeping you safely secure in your seat, which can greatly reduce your chance of injury in the event of an accident.

Seat Belt Penalties in South Dakota

Like the car seat laws, a seat belt violation will lead to a ticket amounting to $25. 

However, unlike the car seat laws, the seat belt one is only a secondary offense. 

A law officer CANNOT pull you over for simply not wearing a seat belt. 

You have to be caught breaking another law first, then they can ticket you for breaking the seat belt law, too. 

As you can see, the State of South Dakota doesn’t take its seat belt law as seriously as its car seat laws. 

But that doesn’t mean that you should do the same. 

All these laws are important and MUST be obeyed. 

How to Properly Wear a Seat Belt

Yes, seat belts must be worn properly to provide protection. 

And here’s how to do that…

Make Sure the Seat Belt Fits Properly

The seat belt should be snug but not too tight. The lap belt should lie low on your hips, while the shoulder belt should cross your chest and collarbone.

Check for Twisted Straps

Ensure that the seat belt straps are not twisted. If the straps are twisted, it might not work as intended in case of an accident.

Adjust the Seat

Adjust the seat to ensure that you are sitting upright and as far back as possible from the dashboard. This will make the seat belt even more effective if there is little chance of you hitting your head on the steering wheel. 

Do Not Place the Seat Belt Behind Your Back/Under Your Arm

Never place the seat belt behind your back or under your arm. This can lead to serious injuries if you find yourself in an accident.

One Seatbelt is Only Good for One Person 

Never let anyone share a seat belt. Yes, even if it is a mother and child together. 

Seat Belt Myths

Do you wonder why so many people don’t wear seat belts?

It’s because of these myths:

  • “Seatbelts trap you inside a car” – NOPE! In fact, seat belts prevent you from hitting your head and going unconscious. So for anything, it helps you escape your car quicker. And also, seat belts are very easy to unclasp. 
  • “Seatbelts are good for long trips, but I don’t need them if I am driving around town” – You never know when a car crash is going to happen. And we don’t need to tell you that this can happen anywhere, too, whether driving on long road trips or just a 5-minute trip to the grocery store. 
  • “Some people are thrown clear in a crash and walk away with hardly a scratch” – Key phrase ‘SOME PEOPLE’. That means that most people that are thrown clear receive severe injuries and, worse, death. 
  • “At slow speeds, I can brace myself” – The force of a crash from a vehicle going 25 mph is the same as a bicycle going full speed and having a head-on crash with a brick wall. No one can brace for it. 
  • “My vehicle is equipped with airbags” – Airbags are NOT seat belt replacements. Remember, airbags only work well if you have a seat belt on. I mean, what use is an airbag if you’re thrown from the vehicle?


And those were the South Dakota car seat laws and seat belt law. 

Remember, these laws are there to ensure safety for all. 

It’s not there to inconvenience you. 

So go and make sure that you follow these laws. 

Be a safe and responsible driver!

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