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Virginia Car Seat Laws in 2021


In Virginia law, a child under two years old must be properly secured in the back seat in a rear-facing child restraint device until he or she reaches the manufacturer’s minimum weight limit to face forward. A child between two and seven years old must be properly secured in the back seat in a child restraint device. A child between four and seven years old may be secured by a standard seat belt with a signed written statement from a licensed physician. A child between eight and seventeen years old must be properly secured by an appropriate safety belt system.

Babies and Children Up to Two Years Old

A child under two years old must be properly secured in a child restraint device meeting United States Department of Transportation standards in the back seat when being transported in a motor vehicle manufactured after January 1, 1968 on the highways. The child restraint device must be rear facing until the child is two years old or meets the manufacturer’s minimum weight limit for the device to be forward facing. If the motor vehicle does not have a back seat, the device may be placed in the front passenger seat if the vehicle is not equipped with a passenger side airbag or the passenger side airbag has been deactivated.

Children Two to Seven Years Old

A child between two and seven years old must be properly secured in a child restraint device meeting United States Department of Transportation standards in the back seat when being transported in a motor vehicle manufactured after January 1, 1968 on the highways. If the motor vehicle does not have a back seat, the device may be placed in the front passenger seat if the vehicle is not equipped with a passenger side airbag or the passenger side airbag has been deactivated.

A child between four and seven years old may be secured by a standard seat belt instead of a child restraint device if you have on your person a signed written statement from a licensed physician which states: your child’s name; that the physician has, through accepted medical procedures, determined that the use of a child restraint system would be impractical for your child due to his or her weight, height, physical unfitness, or other medical reason; and the grounds for the determination.

Children Eight to Seventeen Years Old

A child between eight and seventeen years old must be properly secured by an appropriate safety belt system when being transported on the highways in a motor vehicle manufactured after January 1, 1968 which is equipped or required to be equipped with a safety belt system consisting of lap belts, shoulder harnesses, a combination thereof, or similar devices.

Penalties for Violations

For a first violation, you may be subject to a civil penalty of $50.00. For a second or subsequent violation occurring on a different date, you may be subject to a civil penalty up to $500.00. If the court finds that your violation was due to your financial inability to acquire a child restraint system, your civil penalty may be waived or suspended. You will not be assigned demerit points or court costs for a violation. You may be subject to an additional civil penalty of $20.00 if a licensed physician determined that the use of a child restraint system would be impractical for your child due to his or her weight, height, physical unfitness, or other medical reason and you failed to carry the signed written statement on your person.

Exemptions

Your child may be exempt if he or she is being transported by public transportation; by a bus, school bus, taxicab, executive sedan, limousine, or farm vehicle; or by a vehicle with an interior design which makes the use of a child restraint device or safety belt impractical.

Your child may be exempt if he or she is up to seven years old; is being transported in an emergency medical services agency, fire company, fire department, or law-enforcement agency vehicle by a person in the performance of official duties, under exigent circumstances; and no child restraint device is readily available.

Your child may be exempt if he or she is between eight and seventeen years old and is being transported in an emergency medical services agency, fire company, fire department, or law-enforcement agency vehicle by a person in the performance of official duties.

Your child may be exempt if you have on your person a signed written statement from a licensed physician which states: your child’s name; that the physician has, through accepted medical procedures, determined that the use of a child restraint system would be impractical for your child due to his or her weight, height, physical unfitness, or other medical reason; and the grounds for the determination.

* 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.


Attorney Denise A. Blake*
Attorney Denise A. Blake*

Denise practices family law at Blake Law, LLC in Westminster, Maryland. She holds a Juris Doctor with an emphasis in Family Law from the University of Baltimore School of Law.