Virginia car seat laws are designed to protect drivers and passengers in any vehicle driven in Virginia. The state government has established the “Child Passenger Safety Program” which is designed to feature and educate effective use of seat belts for children until they are old enough to use a standard seat belt. Typically, this starts between the ages of 7 and 10. Typically, the longer the training, the more effective the results.
Car and truck insurance rates in Virginia are positively affected when state residents obey and uphold the law. Medical expenses are also less if an accident occurs and this can potentially lower the rates on portions of the policy including uninsured and underinsured motorists protection. Quite simply, everyone benefits when these laws are not broken. Otherwise, we all pay a few more dollars out of our own pocket.
The Virginia Child Safety Seat law demands restraint devices for any child seven years old or younger. It does not matter how much the child weighs. Seats must receive the approval of the Virginia DOT and the guidelines of the law are not just for parents of children. Any other relative, friend or even care-giver must follow and adhere to the rules. Any child older than seven still must be strapped into their seat using a seatbelt. This assumes the vehicle is 1968 or newer. Any older vehicle can be equipped for an additional safety mechanism or a safety strap.
It’s also important to understand that this law is a “stand alone” violation. That is, you can be ticketed for this offense alone. It does not have to be in conjunction with any other Virginia law. Also…if the car seat faces backwards, it must be placed in the rear seats of the vehicle…not the front. If there is no rear seat, then using the front seat is fine, assuming there are no side airbags. All of these rules have been carefully researched and are designed to save lives.
For vehicle owners that fail to comply with the law, there will be a $50 fine. However, if that person is convicted a second time (not the same day), an additional penalty of as much as $500 will be imposed. All monies collected from fines will go towards a good cause. A separate account was created that will aid lower-income individuals and families buy vehicle safety seats.
The Va Department of Health will help families that can not afford to purchase car seats. There are approximately 150 sites in Virginia that will give these seats to qualifying families. In the last 15 years, more than 100,000 safety seats have been distributed. But just as importantly, updated training and classroom teaching have kept employees of the program up to date and better able to educate and assist needy Virginia consumers.
There are some conditions that need to be met to receive the free safety seats. Some of these conditions include living in Virginia, being able to attend required instruction for the usage and installation of the devices, signature of liability release, and show proof that you meet the income eligibility guidelines. There are two seats that are available and both are made by Evanflo, a reputable manufacturer.
Usually, it is not a good idea to use a car seat that is not new. The seat could have been involved in an accident or they may be mechanical flaws that cannot be seen. Of course, normal wear and tear may affect the usefulness of the seat. And of course, any time you see a rip, tear, crack or other sign of damage, the seat should not be used. Although often you can purchased used models online and at garage sales and auctions, there is no proven or reliable method to test to their safety. Therefore, that type of purchase is not recommended.
Edward Harris is the owner and founder of this website. Since 1980, he has been helping individuals and families with their car insurance needs. During that time, he has handled more than 10,000 applications and continues to provide service for thousands of clients.
Ed is married with two children and enjoys tennis, golf, and international politics. Reluctantly, he bowls once every 10 years.