The State of Virginia voted on new car seat laws on March 6, 2018. If signed into law by the governor, the law would take effect on July 1, 2019. Virginia’s New Car Seat Laws will be updated to ensure maximum safety for children.
BACKGROUND ON VIRGINIA’S NEW CAR SEAT LAWS
The AAP and other organizations have stated that rear facing is the safest and children should remain rear facing in their car seat until at least age 2. One study shows rearfacing between 12-24 months is 532% safer than forward facing. Finally, Virginia has passed a law making sure that more children will remain rearfacing until at least two years old. On March 6, 2018, both the House and Senate in Virginia passed bill HB-708. The bill is now headed to Governor Northam’s desk, where he is expected to sign the bill into law. If signed, it will go into effect come July 1, 2019.
The previous law stated that all children under 7 years old must be in a child seat and in a rear seat of the car if available. Children 8-17 must wear seat belts.
What Virginia’s New Car Seat Law Says
The new bill amends that law and makes the following specifications:
What the new law says – Section 1A – Any person who drives on the highways of Virginia any motor vehicle manufactured after January 1, 1968, shall ensure that any child, up to age eight, whom he transports therein is provided with and properly secured in a child restraint device of a type which meets the standards adopted by the United States Department of Transportation.
Such child restraint device shall not be forward-facing until at least (i) the child reaches two years of age or (ii) the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the device. Further, child restraint devices shall be placed in the back seat of a vehicle. In the event the vehicle does not have a back seat, the child restraint device may be placed in the front passenger seat only if the vehicle is either not equipped with a passenger side airbag or the passenger side airbag has been deactivated.
What this means –
- All children up to age eight must be in a properly secured car seat
- Children must remain rear-facing until the age of two or they reach the minimum weight for their car seat.
- For example, if you have a car seat that has a minimum forward facing weight of 25 lbs and you have a 22lb 21 month old, you need to leave them rear facing.
- If you have a 26lb 18 month old, you could legally turn them around.
- All car seat devices must be placed in the back seat of the car.
- If your vehicle does not have a back seat (pick up truck, older model car), you can only place the car seat in the front passenger side and the passenger airbags must be deactivated.
What the new law says – Section 1B- Any person transporting another person less than 18 years old, except for those required pursuant to subsection A to be secured in a child restraint device, shall ensure that such person is provided with and properly secured by an appropriate safety belt system when driving on the highways of Virginia in any motor vehicle manufactured after January 1, 1968, equipped or required by the provisions of this title to be equipped with a safety belt system, consisting of lap belts, shoulder harnesses, combinations thereof or similar devices.
What this means
If you are traveling with someone under the age of 18, they need to be secured in a car seat or safety belt system.
What the new law says – Section§ 46.2-1096 – Whenever any physician licensed to practice medicine in the Commonwealth or any other state determines, through accepted medical procedures, that use of a child restraint system by a particular child would be impractical by reason of the child’s weight or height, physical unfitness, or other medical reason, the child shall be exempt from the provisions of this article. Any person transporting a child so exempted shall carry on his or her person or in the vehicle a signed written statement of the physician identifying the child so exempted and stating the grounds therefor.
What this means
If for any reason, a medical professional determines that a person under the age of 18 needs to be exempt, you must carry a signed written statement with you and it must state why the passenger is exempt.
Please note that you should be striving for maximums, not minimums. Leave your child rearfacing and in secured car seats as long as you possibly can.
ADDITIONAL NOTES OF VIRGINIA’S NEW CAR SEAT LAWS
- A violation of this section may be charged on the uniform traffic summons form.
- Nothing in this law applies to taxicabs, school buses, executive sedans, or limousines.
- If you are traveling to the state of Virginia you are to adhere to these laws.
- It is unclear how much a fine would be under the new law. However, the current fine is $50, so we predict at least that amount.
- You can view the full bill here.
- 4 Cars Seats that will rear face until 2 years old under $100
- 20 Common Car Seat Mistakes
- Your Child’s Safety Over Your Convenience
- Here’s rearfacing car seat myths busted in case you don’t think it’s possible.
- Child over 8 years old? See if they are really ready for a seat belt or if they should remain boostered.
Disclosure: I am not a lawyer. The above information is not legal advice.