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When can my child legally sit in the front seat?

September 17, 2015 by Steven M. Gursten

Our auto accident attorneys always receive important questions regarding Michigan’s child car seat law. The latest involves when it’s legal and safe to move your child from the back seat to the front:

Q. My son is 7 years old and almost 4′ 9″. Is it permissible (and safe) for him to sit in the front seat with a booster seat?

A. Great question. Under Michigan’s child car seat law, the only children who must be positioned in a car’s “rear seat” are those who are “less than 4 years of age” and they must be “properly secure[d]” in “a child restraint system.” (MCL 257.710d(1) and (2))

As for age- and height-specific seating information, the law provides that a child who is “less than 8 years of age and who is less than 4 feet 9 inches in height shall be properly secured in a child restraint system in accordance with the child restraint manufacturer’s and vehicle manufacturer’s instructions and [federal safety] standards …” (MCL 257.710e(3)(b))

Arguably, that means that if a child is 8 years of age or older or is 4’9″ or taller, then he or she need not be secured in a “child restraint system,” but, instead, may use a “safety belt” as provided for in Michigan’s Seat Belt Law. (MCL 257.710e(3) and (5))

For more information about keeping your kids safe in the car, please take a look at the following helpful blog posts:

Michigan’s existing car seat law and police interpretation

When do I switch my child from a car seat to a booster seat?

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