Safety Laws in Idaho

Title 49 of the Idaho Statutes, Motor Vehicles, covers all laws regarding motor vehicles in Idaho, and helps you understand the purpose of vehicle code.

Aside from those sources, you can find explanations about some of the motor vehicle and safety laws asked about most often below.

Seat Belts

Per Idaho Statute 49-673, you must wear a seat belt whenever a vehicle is in motion unless:

  • You have a disability or other medical condition that prevents you from safely wearing a seat belt―and written certification from your doctor.
  • You're the occupant of a motorcycle, mail delivery vehicle, husbandry vehicle, or emergency vehicle.
  • All seat belts in the vehicle are already in use.

Not wearing your seat belt, or allowing a person under 18 years old to go without a seat belt in your vehicle, can get you a fine of $10.

Child Car Seats

If you have a child in your moving vehicle who is 6 years old or younger, you must secure him or her in a child safety restraint that meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213 Child Restraint Systems, according to Idaho Statute 49-672.

Exceptions include:

  • When all of the vehicle's seat belts are in use and the child is safely situated in the back seat (due to the vehicle's seat belts being in use).
  • When an attendant is holding the child in order to nurse or tend to the child.

Cellular Phones

To date, Idaho does not ban talking on a cell phone while driving. However, texting while operating a vehicle is banned for all drivers, regardless of age or vehicle type.

Bicycle, Motorcycle, and ATV Helmets

Idaho smiles on bicycle riders, and even though the law doesn't require them to wear helmets, wearing one is strongly encouraged.

The Idaho Bicycle Commuter Guide dedicates a special section to the importance of wearing helmets, what to look for when buying a helmet, and replacing a helmet that's been involved in a crash. Refer also to the Idaho Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, especially for additional bicycle-related laws.

According to Idaho Statute 49-666, all motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders under 18 years old must wear an approved helmet when they're not riding on private property.

Check out our special report How To Buy the Right Helmet for information about purchasing approved helmets.


Idaho Statute 49-905 tells us that all motor vehicles must have 2 headlights, or "head lamps," on each side of the front of the vehicle. All motorcycles must have at least 1 headlight and no more than 2 headlights.

According to Idaho Statute 49-903, drivers must use those headlights from sunset to sunrise, and when conditions are such that there isn't enough light for drivers to clearly make out other drivers and vehicles within 500 feet.

For more information about headlights, tail lamps, and other such equipment refer to Chapter 9: Vehicle Equipment.

Unattended Motor Vehicles

Idaho Statute 49-602 prohibits drivers from leaving their cars unattended while still running. Drivers must turn their engines off, lock the ignitions, and remove the keys of all vehicles they leave unattended.

Unattended Children and Pets

Leaving a child or pet unattended in a vehicle is dangerous. Not only does it leave them vulnerable to strangers and vehicle malfunctions, but it also leaves them vulnerable to the elements.

The Idaho Transportation Department links to various informative articles dealing with the dangers of unattended children and pets in vehicles―especially during hot weather:

Reporting Unsafe and/or Drunk Drivers

Both reckless driving and drunk driving are causes for license suspension in Idaho.

If you feel a family member, friend, loved one, neighbor, or mere acquaintance is driving in a manner that puts your safety at risk, it's best to contact the Idaho Transportation Department, your local detachment of the Idaho State Police, or another law enforcement branch.

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