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2024 Virginia Car Seat Laws

A depiction of a Virginia resident buckling their child into an approved child safety seat.

Unfortunately, car accidents are the second leading cause of injury and death for children in the U.S. The good news is, there are ways you can significantly reduce your child’s risk of injury. The first step is using a car seat that’s correctly installed. 

Virginia has specific car seat laws that all parents and caregivers need to understand for the safety of their little passengers. Continue reading to get caught up on a few of the most important VA child and booster seat laws in 2024. 

If you have suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence, we are here to help. Sharif Gray has won millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. Call us at (804) 915-1611 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We will get justice for you. 

Child Restraint Device Law in Virginia

According to the updated child seat safety laws issued by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), all motor vehicle drivers with children under 8 must adhere to the following:

  • Children under eight years of age must be in an age/weight appropriate harnessed seat
  • All children under 2 need to stay in a rear-facing seat unless they’ve reached the minimum weight limit for forward-facing seats
  • The kind of child safety seat you use should reflect your child’s height, weight and age.  
  • Car seats should be in the rear seat when possible. However, if your child is in the front seat, you must turn the passenger airbag off. 
  • There are exemptions to VA’s car seat laws for buses, farm vehicles and limos. Though, it’s still encouraged to use lap belts when possible. 

It’s important to note that Virginia law requires children to remain in the correct seat until the child reaches the appropriate age and weight. For Virginia, this is a primary enforcement initiative. As such, violating these laws can lead to citations as well as fines between $50 (for the first offense) and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. 

Virginia’s Child Safety Seat Requirements

Choosing the right type of car seat is absolutely crucial for protecting your child. As such – Virginia law outlines specific requirements for all children under eight that are based on:

  • Your child’s age and size
  • Covering rear-facing car seats
  • Forward-facing safety seats
  • Booster seats (including a backless booster seat)

Similar to vehicle seat belt studies, it’s a fact that not only do child restraint devices greatly reduce the risk of serious injuries in car accidents, but also decreases the likelihood of a fatality. 

With that in mind, understanding the state car seat laws and following child passenger safety recommendations can make a world of difference.

Choosing the Right Child Safety Seats & Addressing Safety Concerns

From rear-facing safety seats to those in a forward-facing position to everything in between, choosing the right child restraint device can be absolutely overwhelming. 

However, if you want to maximize the protection of your child if they’re involved in a moderate or severe crash, it’s best to go with an approved seat that meets all state transportation standards. That means, you’ll need to consider: 

  • Your child’s age, weight, and height, as well as any specific car seat features that suits your needs
  • Updates about defective child car seats 
  • Ensuring it’s an appropriate fit for your child 

If you believe your child has been injured due to a defective product, we can help. Contact us today to speak with a Virginia attorney for defective product claims today. 

Ensuring Proper Fit

If your child is still in a rear-facing seat, be sure to check that the harness straps are at or below their shoulders. If they have a forward-facing car seat, the harness straps should be at or above their shoulders with the harness retainer clip at armpit level. 

When they’ve graduated to booster seats, double check to ensure the seat belt fits properly. That includes placing the shoulder belt across the middle of the chest and the lap belt low across the child’s upper thighs

How to Know If They’re Ready For a Booster Seat: Generally, if your child’s knees bends comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat, they are most likely tall enough for the booster seat. However, be sure to check manufacturer guidelines and adhere to child passenger safety laws when making the transition. 

Car Seat Safety Best Practices

While Virginia car seat laws set the minimum standards, following some additional best practices can maximize the protection your child’s car seat provides. Proper car seat installation is essential, so always refer to the car seat manual and your vehicle owner’s manual.

Remember, some convertible car seats can adjust to be a rear-facing safety seat or a forward-facing safety seat. If you have any concerns about a potentially defective child car seat or questions about harness straps, a child passenger safety technician can help. 

In some cases, low-income families may even have options for assistance with approved seats or car seat installation.

  • Follow the manuals: Always follow the instructions in your car seat manual and your vehicle owner’s manual for proper installation and use. Incorrect installation compromises car seat safety significantly.
  • Back seat is safest: The back seat of a vehicle is the safest place for children under 13 years old. Only put a child in the front passenger seat if the passenger side airbag can be deactivated.
  • Don’t rush transitions: Ensure your child maximizes the protection of each car seat or booster seat stage before transitioning to the next.

Resources for Help

Contact RVA Personal Injury Lawyers 

Aside from choosing between a booster seat, rear-facing car seat, and forward-facing car seats, understanding Virginia car seat laws and best practices is essential for keeping your child safe on the road. 

By prioritizing car seat safety, you greatly reduce the risk of serious injury and give your child the best chance of staying safe in the event of a car accident.

However, sometimes car accidents and injuries happen even when you’ve followed all of the car safety laws. With that in mind, if you or your child has suffered serious injuries due to the recklessness of another driver, you deserve maximum compensation. 

Contact us today to speak with a Virginia car accident attorney you can trust. 

“We Get Justice For Injured People, and We Love What We Do”

We are not settlement lawyers. Sharif Gray has proven that he can and will get results in court, and the insurance companies know that. If you have suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence, we can help.

Sharif is committed to trying cases well. Because of that, he does not handle hundreds of cases at a time. He is selective in the cases he takes so he can get justice for the people he represents. In every case, he has three goals:

  1. Hold the responsible corporation or individual fully accountable.
  2. Make the community safer, so others are not also harmed.
  3. Compensation that recognizes the full and fair value of what was taken from your health and quality of life.

We love what we do, and we are proud of the positive impact we have had and will continue to have on the people we represent and the community we live in.

If we can be of help to you, please do not hesitate to call us at (804) 915-1611 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We will get justice for you.

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