West Virginia Car Seat Laws in 2020

By: Attorney Denise A. Blake*

In West Virginia law, a child under eight years old and less than 4’9” tall must be properly placed, maintained, and secured in a child passenger safety device system meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards. A child under eight years old and at least 4’9” tall may be properly placed, maintained, and secured in a safety belt. 

A child between eight and seventeen years old must be restrained by a safety belt which meets applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards when operating or being transported in a passenger vehicle on West Virginia’s public streets or highways. A passenger vehicle is defined as a motor vehicle designed for transporting no more than ten passengers, including the driver.

Babies and Children Up to Eight Years Old and Less Than 4’9” Tall

A child under eight years old must be properly placed, maintained, and secured in a child passenger safety device system meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards when being transported in a passenger automobile, van, or pickup truck while the motor vehicle is in motion and operated on West Virginia’s streets or highways.

Children Up to Eight Years Old and At Least 4’9” Tall

A child under eight years old and at least 4’9” tall may be properly placed, maintained, and secured in a safety belt when being transported in a passenger automobile, van, or pickup truck while the motor vehicle is in motion and operated on West Virginia’s streets or highways.

Children Eight to Seventeen Years Old

A child between eight and seventeen years old must be restrained by a safety belt which meets applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards when operating or being transported in a passenger vehicle on West Virginia’s public streets or highways. A passenger vehicle is defined as a motor vehicle designed for transporting no more than ten passengers, including the driver.

Penalties for Violations

If you violate West Virginia’s child passenger safety devices law, you may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and fined between $10.00 and $20.00.

If you violate West Virginia’s safety belts law, you may be fined $25.00. You will not be assessed court costs or other fees and no points will be entered on your driver’s record.

Exemptions

Your child may be exempt from West Virginia’s child passenger safety devices law if he or she is being transported in a passenger automobile, van, or pickup truck operated for hire.

Your child may be exempt from West Virginia’s child passenger safety devices law if your motor vehicle contains more passengers than the total number of seat belts or other safety devices installed in compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards and all seat belts are in use at the time of examination by a law officer.

Your child may be exempt from West Virginia’s safety belts law if he or she is being transported on a motorcycle, in a trailer, or by any motor vehicle which is not required by federal motor vehicle safety standards to be equipped with a safety belt system.

Your child may be exempt from West Virginia’s safety belts law if he or she is being transported in a passenger vehicle manufactured on or before January 1, 1967 or a passenger vehicle which is a 1967 model or older.

Your child may be exempt from West Virginia’s safety belts law if he or she has a physically disabling condition, his or her physical disability would prevent appropriate restraint in a safety belt, and a physician duly certifies the nature of his or her disability and the reason that the restraint is inappropriate.

* Ms. Blake is licensed in the state of Maryland. The information provided in this article does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.