What Are Missouri’s Seat Belt Laws?


Despite widespread information about the safety benefits of seat belts, as many as 53% of Americans killed in car accidents were unbelted at the time of the accident. In Missouri, 68% of car accident fatalities in 2020 occurred to unbelted motorists. According to the CDC, seatbelts reduce the risk of death to drivers and front-seat passengers by 45% and reduce the risk of injuries by 50%.

Today, all states with the exception of New Hampshire have laws in place requiring motorists to wear seatbelts, but states may have a range of requirements for adults in front or back seats as well as separate laws for child restraints in vehicles. Before you drive in Missouri, it’s important to have a thorough understanding not only of the safety benefits of wearing a seatbelt but also of Missouri’s seat belt laws.

Missouri's Seatbelt Laws

Missouri Law Requires All Motorists to Wear Seatbelts

All drivers and passengers must wear seatbelts in an operating vehicle in Missouri. Missouri drivers are responsible for ensuring that all passengers in their vehicles who are under the age of 16 wear seatbelts or proper child restraints. Child car seat laws in Missouri are as follows:

  • All children under age four and/or under 40 pounds must be buckled into a size-appropriate car seat
  • Children between the ages of four and seven who weigh less than 40 pounds must be properly restrained in a car seat or booster
  • Children over age 8, or who weigh 80 or more pounds, or who are 4’9” tall or taller may ride in a booster seat or wear a seatbelt.

What is a Secondary Offense in Missouri Seat Belt Laws?

In Missouri, law enforcement officers may not pull over drivers because they aren’t wearing a seatbelt. Instead, this is a secondary offense. As a secondary offense, the police can only issue a citation for failing to wear a seatbelt after they’ve pulled over a driver for another traffic offense such as speeding or rolling through a stop sign.

Fines for failing to wear a seatbelt in Missouri range from $10.00 for adults to $50 dollars for children, plus court costs.

Exceptions to the Seat Belt Laws in Missouri

In Missouri, there are only a few exceptions to the state’s seatbelt requirement for all motorists including in the following circumstances:

  • Mail carriers do not have to wear seatbelts
  • Motorists driving cars manufactured before 1968 do not have to wear seatbelts since these vehicles may not be equipped with belts
  • Anyone with a medical condition and a signed doctor’s note stating that the condition prohibits them from safely wearing a seatbelt
  • Agricultural workers in work vehicles on private property do not have to wear seatbelts

If crossing into Kansas from Missouri, it’s important to note that fines for failing to wear a seatbelt are higher in Kansas than in Missouri, and Kansas officers may pull over drivers for not wearing a seatbelt in the front seat since it’s a primary offense in Kansas. If you find yourrself involved in an accident, contact our St. Louis car accident attorney for legal assistance.