When you’re planning a family trip to Wisconsin, it’s important that you make sure to follow local (or exceed) the child passenger safety laws.
Official Wisconsin Car Seat Laws
You can find the official Wisconsin car seat law in Wisconsin Statutes Section 347.48.
Wisconsin Rear-Facing Car Seat Law
Wisconsin’s rear facing law specifies that children must rear face until at least 1 year old and 20 pounds. Wisconsin law also requires parents to follow the guidelines set forth by the manufacturer of their specific car seat (referred to as “proper use”).
Some manufacturers permit children to forward face as young as 1 year as long as they weigh at least 22 pounds, while other manufacturers require toddlers to be at least 2 years old to forward face.
Rear-facing is significantly safer for children as it dramatically decreases the risk of head and neck injuries. This resource is full of great information.
The current guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics is that children should remain rear-facing to the limits of their convertible car seat. Nearly all convertible car seats today will accommodate kids up to 40 pounds (they have variable height limits so read your manual) – the size of an average 4 year old – rear facing.
Though it’s not specified by the law, research indicates that kids should continue riding in a harnessed car seat (whether rear-facing or forward-facing) until at least age 5, 40 pounds and mature enough to sit properly for the whole drive.
WI car seat law requires that children ride in a harnessed car seat until at least age 4 and 40 pounds. Note that kids must meet both the age and weight. requirements before transitioning to a booster seat.
Wisconsin Booster Seat Law
Wisconsin requires children to ride in a car seat or booster seat until they reach 4’9″ or 8 years old or 80 pounds. Children are not permitted to ride in a booster seat in Wisconsin until they are at least 4 years old and 40 pounds. Be sure to follow manufacturer minimum and maximum size requirements for your booster seat – most manufacturers now require a minimum of 4 years old, 40″ tall and 40 pounds.
Most children do not fit properly in an adults seatbelt until 10-12 years old, when they pass the 5-step test.
When Can Kids Ride In the Front Seat In Wisconsin?
Wisconsin front seat law requires that kids ride in the back seat (if there is one) as long as they are in a harnessed car seat. However, but many car manufacturers specify that kids should not ride in the front until age 13. Here’s an excellent explanation of why.
Upcoming Changes To Wisconsin Car Seat Law
A bill recently passed in the Wisconsin Assembly in January 2023 to require forward facing until 2 years old. As of this update, the Senate is considering the measure.
Get the latest from Wisconsin DoT
If you’ll be flying to Wisconsin, be sure to bring one of these travel car seats. If you’re planning a family road trip, consider one of these comfortable convertible car seats or comfortable booster seats. Check more car seat laws by state as you plan your route.