Traffic Safety Laws in Louisiana
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Louisiana Safety Laws
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission oversees the state's highway safety program to reduce the frequency of accidents and injuries.
Our Louisiana Safety Laws page covers a range of Louisiana rules and laws related to traffic safety, including child car seats, seat belts, headlights, cell phones and texting, motorcycles, and other information to help keep you safe on the road.
Child Car Seat Laws in Louisiana
Child safety seats are required in every state, and there is an important reason why. The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission believes child safety seats provide infants and young children the absolute best protection in the car.
If your child fits within more than one category due to age or weight, please place him or her in the more protective option.
- Birth - 1 year old and less than 20 lbs.: Rear-facing infant or convertible seat.
- 1 up to 4 years old and from 20 to 40 lbs: Must ride forward facing in a convertible or combination seat with an internal harness as required by Louisiana law.
- 4 up to 6 years old and from 40 to 60 lbs.: Must ride in a belt-positioning booster seat (backless or high-backed).
- At least 6 years old and more than 60 lbs.: Lap-shoulder belt or belt-positioning booster seat. (It is also recommended that the child be at least 4 ft 9 inches tall).
Per guidelines set up by the NHTSA, the LA DHS recommends keeping your child in the back seat through the age of 12 years old at least.
If you're convicted of a child safety seat offense, you have the possibility of being ticketed and fined, with your fine amounts increasing for subsequent violations.
You can also learn more about best practices in child safety seat usage from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Child Restraint Affidavit in Louisiana
Drivers that have been convicted of breaking a child safety seat law must provide the state with a Child Restraint Affidavit proving that they have acquired an appropriate child safety seat. The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS) sends a notification informing you of an allowance of 30 days to purchase a car seat and submit the affidavit.
You will submit the form to the address contained on the notice you receive from the DPS. If the period of 30 days passes and no affidavit has been provided, the DPS will suspend your driver's license until you provide a notarized affidavit showing you obtained an appropriate child restraint system.
Child Seat Installation & Inspection Station Assistance
Installing a child safety seat can be difficult. Reading your specific car seat manufacturer's guide on how to install the car seat is a good first step. You may also:
LA Cell Phone & Texting Laws
New drivers with “learner's" or “intermediate" licenses are prohibited from using cell phones while driving in Louisiana. The maximum fine for new drivers who violate the cell phone law is $175.
Louisiana also has a statewide ban on the use of wireless devices for writing, sending, or reading text-based communications while driving, regardless of age.
School Zones and Cell Phone Use
If you're driving through a school zone during posted hours, it is against the law to use your cell phone or other mobile device for any reason, including:
- Making a phone call.
- Social networking.
The only exceptions to this rule are if:
- You need to report an emergency (including traffic hazards or accidents).
- Your personal safety is at risk.
- You need to report or avert a criminal act against someone (including yourself).
- You are legally parked.
- You operate an emergency vehicle and must use your cell phone as part of your job.
If you are caught illegally using your cell phone in a school zone, you will be charged with a moving violation. The fine for a first offense is $175 and any second or subsequent offenses carry a fine of up to $500.
Louisiana Seat Belt Laws
You must wear a seat belt at all times while riding in a vehicle in Louisiana, regardless of whether you are the driver or a passenger. Failure to do so will result in tickets and fines, the amounts of which are determined by LA state law.
The Child Occupant Seatbelt Law requires children from 6 to 12 years old to be restrained by a lap belt, shoulder harness, or an age/size appropriate child safety or booster seat.
Visit our Tickets & Traffic School Guide for more information if an officer cites you.
Motorcycle & Bicycle Laws in Louisiana
Louisiana Helmet Laws
All Louisiana motorcycle riders and passengers must wear a safety helmet designed with lining, padding and visor, and secured properly with a chinstrap while the vehicle is in motion. This law also applies to motor-driven cycles and motorized bicycles.
Take a moment to check out our article on How to Buy the Right Helmet to help you decide which helmet is right for you.
There are NO mandatory helmet laws for bicyclists in Louisiana, except for children riders or passengers under 12 years old.
If your child weighs less than 40 lbs. or is less than 40 inches in height, he or she must be properly secured to a restraining seat while riding as a passenger.
Motorcycle Equipment Laws
- All motorcycles must have a reflector, which must be mounted properly.
- Daytime-use motorcycle headlights are required in the state of Louisiana.
- Any motorcycle carrying a passenger – except for those in a sidecar or enclosed cab – must be equipped with footrests.
Motorcycle Safety Courses
Louisiana residents may attend several Motorcycle Operator Training Courses appropriate for beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders.
The Basic Rider course is 15 1/2 hours and covers the skills and mental attitude necessary for navigating the roads safely during traffic, and other practical exercises. The course is divided into 2 sessions on Saturday and Sunday in a controlled, off-street environment. Motorcycles used by trainees may not exceed 550 cc.
The Intermediate course is 5 hours and takes place within an on-range course. Instructors focus on cornering, braking, evasive maneuvering, and risk-management techniques. You must have first taken the basic rider course, or already have a motorcycle license/endorsement.
The Advanced course is 8 hours Motorcycles must be street legal (i.e., registered, insured and inspected).
Consider taking the Advanced course if you're a skilled, properly licensed motorcyclist who would like to sharpen the following skills:
- Risk management.
- Rider behavior.
- Riding strategies.
- Advanced braking.
Once you are assigned to a course, all submitted fees are NON-REFUNDABLE unless the Louisiana Department of Public Safety cancels the course. You can view the schedules for each course at the LSP course scheduling page, and download the course application.
For more information on scheduling, please call 225-925-6113, ext 224.
If you would like more information on how to safely ride a motorcycle, view our page on Tips for a Safe Ride.
Headlight Laws in Louisiana
Passenger Vehicle Headlight Laws
In Louisiana, your headlights must be on:
- During the hours between sunset and sunrise.
- When visibility is reduced due to poor weather conditions.
- While your windshield wipers are in continuous use.
Motorcycle Headlight Laws
As an added safety precaution, Louisiana requires headlight use during the daytime.
Every motorcycle and motor-driven cycle in Louisiana must be equipped with a headlight.
Bicycle Headlight Laws
A white headlight on the front of your bicycle is required while riding at night.
You can also read about other general bicycle safety measures in the following article: “Bicycle Safety Laws: Learn Your State's Helmet Laws, Traffic Laws, and More."
Louisiana Boating Laws
If you plan to operate a boat in Louisiana, you'll need to know the legal and equipment requirements to ensure you're compliant and ready for safe boating.
Consider getting an online insurance quote for your boat or personal watercraft.
Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
On vessels less than 26 feet in length, Louisiana law requires all children 16 years old and younger to wear a fastened / fitted U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD.
Make sure to select an appropriate PFD for the water conditions that apply to you.
Personal Water Crafts (PWCs)
It is illegal for anyone under 16 years old to operate a PWC in Louisiana, or for anyone who owns a personal watercraft to permit him or her to operate the PWC.
Every person born after January 1, 1984 must complete a Louisiana boating education course and carry proof of completion to operate a motorboat or PWC powered by a motor in excess of 10 horsepower.
Read the section below on “Louisiana Boater Education Courses" for more information.
Important PWC Laws in Louisiana
- PWC riders and passengers must wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device (i.e., life jacket).
- An operator of a PWC equipped with a lanyard-type ignition safety switch must attach the lanyard to his or her person, clothing or PFD.
- Operating a personal watercraft (PWC) between sunset and sunrise is illegal.
- It is illegal to chase, harass or disturb wildlife with your PWC.
Boat Navigation Lights
From sunset to sunrise, every motorboat or vessel in all weather must display the following lights:
Class A and Class 1 Motorboats / Vessels
- A bright white light behind the boat that shines around the entire horizon.
- A combined lantern in the front of the boat that is positioned lower than the light in the back. It should show green on the right (starboard) side, and red on the left (port) side of the vessel.
Class 2 and Class 3 Motorboats / Vessels
- A bright white light in the front of the boat.
- A bright white light in the back of the boat that is higher than the light in the front.
- White lights should be visible at a minimum distance of 2 miles on a dark night with normal conditions.
- Every colored light must be visible at a minimum distance of 1 mile.
Louisiana Boater Education Courses
Classroom courses offered by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries provide basic boating knowledge to students in about 8 hours. Upon completion of the course, students receive a vessel operator's certification card.
Unattended Kids & Pets in Louisiana
Louisiana law mandates a fine of up to $500 or imprisonment of up to 6 months, or both for first-time offenders who leave a child or a pet unattended in a motor vehicle. For subsequent offenses, the fine up to $5,000 and/or jail time of no less than 1 year.
If you see a child left unattended in a vehicle, please contact local law enforcement or dial 911 immediately. If you encounter a vehicle with an unattended pet inside, please contact your local police department or animal control unit.