Virginia Seatbelt and Car Seat Laws

Virginia has seatbelt and car seat laws in place to keep children and adults safe while traveling in a vehicle. 


What are Virginia’s Seatbelt Laws?


In Virginia, drivers and passengers must wear seat belts when in a front seat. However, there are several exceptions—for example, for mail carriers, taxi drivers and passengers, and people told by a doctor that they should not wear one for medical reasons. Other than those individuals, if you are in a front seat and not wearing a seat belt, you are in violation and subject to fines. 


Additionally, anyone under the age of 18 must wear a seat belt or be in a child safety seat when appropriate, no matter where they are sitting. The driver is responsible for ensuring that everyone is properly secured. 


What are Virginia’s Car Seat Laws? 


Virginia’s car seat laws are as follows: 


Rear-Facing Car Seat Law

Any child under the age of two must travel in a rear-facing car seat located in the back seat until they reach the seat manufacturer’s height and weight limit. If the car does not have a back seat, the airbags must be deactivated.


Forward-Facing Car Seat Law

Once children reach the height and weight limits of a rear-facing car seat, they must travel in a forward-facing car seat until they outgrow it according to the seat manufacturer’s height and weight limit. 


Booster Seat Law

Once a child outgrows a forward-facing car seat, according to its manufacturer, they must travel in a booster seat until eight years old. Children eight years of age and older can sit in the front seat or back seat of a vehicle while using a seat belt. 


Virginia’s Car Seat Replacement Law


When a vehicle is in a major car accident to the point that it cannot be driven away from the scene, any car seats inside must be replaced. This is because their structural safety can be compromised in a crash. If another party is responsible for your accident, their insurance company should pay for its replacement. 


Penalties for Seatbelt or Car Seat Violations


A violation of Virginia’s seatbelt law is a “secondary” offense, which means law enforcement cannot pull you over while driving only because you were not wearing a seatbelt. You must have broken the law in some other manner. If you are cited, the ticket is $25. 


A car seat law violation is a “primary” offense, which means law enforcement needs no other reason to pull you over. The fine is $50, but subsequent violations are subject to fines up to $500. 


Car Seat Tips for Children


  • The back seat is the safest place for children to ride in, so it is best to keep them there as long as possible.


  • Once children can wear a seatbelt, the lap belt should lie across the thighs, not the stomach. Additionally, the shoulder belt should not come across the face or neck. 


  • Children in booster seats designed for shoulder belts should not solely use a lap belt.


  • Items such as books, towels, or pillows should never be used to boost a child.  


  • Shoulder belts should always lie across the chest and never behind a person’s arm or back since it will eliminate any protection for the upper body in a crash. 

If you or a loved one have been inured in a car accident, our Hampton car accident attorneys will be able to get you the compensation you deserve.