What are the seatbelt & childseat laws in Virginia?

Pursuant to Virginia State Code 46.2 – 1094, occupants of front seats who are 16 years or older are required to use safety lap belts and shoulder harnesses. Children under 16 years of age are required by the seat belt law to be secured with a seat belt or within a car seat no matter where in the vehicle they are sitting. Additionally, children must be secured in a car seat or booster seat based on the Virginia child seat guidelines outlined below.

Fines for not wearing a seat belt in Virginia

The penalty for violation of the Virginia seat belt law is $25, and for the car seat law it is $50. The adult driver is responsible for all children in the vehicle who are under 16 years old no matter where in the car they are sitting, so the adult driver must properly implement the use of safety restraints, seat belts, child safety belts and/or child seats; however, if a passenger is 16 or older, they are legally responsible for themselves. You cannot be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt in Virginia because violation of the seat belt law is not a primary offense. If you are pulled over for another violation and you are also violating the seat belt, child safety belt and/or car seat laws, you will be fined for the additional violation.

Who is required to wear a seat belt?

Passengers 16 years old and older are required to wear a seat belt when they are occupying the front seat of the vehicle. Passengers under 16 years old and sitting anywhere in the vehicle are required to wear a seat belt that fits snuggly across chest (or breastbone, for children) and hips, never under their arm or below the abdomen. Those passengers include children who meet the age, height, and weight requirements and who have graduated from car seats and/or a child safety belt as a primary safety restraint. If the age, height and weight requirements have not been met, these children are required to be secured in a car seat.

While pregnant women are required to wear a seat belt, they should never secure a lap belt or any other safety restrain across their abdomen.

Medical conditions can excuse you from the seat belt law, as long as a written statement is obtained from a physician and carried on you when driving.

Virginia car/child seat information

Virginia has adopted the following guidelines for age, height and weight requirements regarding the use of car seats:

  • Rear-facing seat – Birth to 1 year old and at least 20 pounds
  • Forward-facing seat – 1 to about 4 years old and at least 20 pounds.
  • Backless booster seat – about 4 to 8 years old and under 4ft, 9 in.
  • Rear facing car seats must be secured in the backseat of the vehicle.

 Children cannot ride unrestrained in the rear cargo area. High-back booster seats follow the same recommendations as backless booster seats and both serve to boost and better position the child in the vehicle safety restraints. These should be used until the child is of an age, weight and height that allows them to be properly restrained using a standard lap-belt and harness seat belt system.

All types of seats require a safety belt or LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) to hold it in place with no more than 1 inch side to side or forward movement allowed.

For rear-facing car seats, use the slots that put the belt at the shoulders and, for forward-facing car seats, the harness should rest at or slightly above shoulders.

Posted in: Seatbelt

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