Car seat laws in Virginia

To know about Virginia car seat laws which are further divided into different types based on age, weight and height. The Virginia car seat law is essential to protect the child from severe injuries during motor vehicle accidents. We will also see the requirements for various car seats, including rear-facing, forward-facing, booster, and seat belts. Moreover, we will also see Penalties for Non-Compliance with Virginia’s Car Seat Laws.


A vehicle accident is the primary cause of accidents between the ages of 3 to 14. In the year 2021, in Virginia, it has been reported that almost 2,486 children under the age of 14 got injured alongside 22 people who died due to injuries during a car accident. This happens yearly, and thousands of people, especially children, have to lose their lives due to such devastating injuries. In most, it has been found that majorly injuries during car crashes happen due to inappropriate child restraints. Thus, it is essential to obey and know about car seat laws regarding the child’s safety.

As a car accident can happen for any reason or at any time, no matter what you have planned for the defense from the accident as a driver, it is essential to know that safety is always better. Therefore, in every case, it has been suggested to take appropriate measures when riding with your child inside your car. One such essential point is choosing the perfect car seat. This ultimate Virginia child seat law guide will be an on-the-go resource for taking personalized tips on car safety seats depending on the child’s height, weight and age. Let’s check out and understand the different types of car seats available which are best for the child, along with the tips on the proper car seat installation process.

Virginia Car Seat Requirements by Age and Weight

According to Virginia Car seat law, children under the age of 8 must be restrained with the child safety car seat. The child should sit in the car safety seat allotted to them until they reach a certain weight and height limit. Now the car seat is allocated based on age, height and weight.

For Infants

Virginia car seat law states, “Children under the age of 2 must sit in the rear-facing car seat.”

For toddlers

Children between 2 to 4 years old must sit in the forward-facing car seat.

For Older children

Children under 8 must sit in the booster seat until they reach their maximum height and weight.

Virginia Rear-facing Car Seat Law

As per the Virginia rear-facing law, children at most 2 years must sit in the rear-facing car seat until they cross the maximum height and weight requirement of 40 pounds.

Virginia Forward-facing Car Seat Laws

Once the child outgrows the rear-facing seat, the parents can upgrade them to the new forward-facing seat. It typically happens once the child reaches 2 years of age.

Virginia Booster Seat Law

Once the child outgrows the maximum height and weight limit specified for the forward-facing seat, the child should sit in the booster seat. As per the booster seat Law in virginia, children under the age of 8 must be secured in the booster car seat until they attain the maximum height and weight limit, where the weight limit is between 40 to 50 pounds. The booster seats the divided into two types depending upon the requirement, one the high back and the other the backless booster car seat.

Differences between high-back and backless booster seats

1.    High back booster seat

As the name suggests, the High back booster seat consists of a car seat with a high back. The high-back seat comprises the headrest, which is essential, especially for the car, which does not contain any high-back seat or a seat without head restraints. This is because the child’s neck and head are susceptible and are lower age and needs the support of the car seat while sitting. The high-back seats are safer and more secure than any other car seat.

2.    Backless booster seat

Compared to the high back seat, the backless booster car seat is small in size, height, and weight, making it easier to use. However, the high-back car seat is much more secure. The backless booster seat can accommodate an extensive range of weights and heights, meaning the child can sit comfortably for a more extended period without worrying about changing the car seat frequently with the latest one. However, it lacks head support, so if the car does not have a long back or headrest, it can be problematic for a child with an extended height.

Virginia Infant Car Seat Laws

As per the Virginia infant car seat law, the child must ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until two years before they reach the maximum height and weight limit required to sit in a forward-facing car seat. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the American Academy of Pediatricians stated that the rear-facing seat should be used until the age of two years, or a child can use it for a more extended period by checking the height and weight limit as specified by the manufacturer. Some new car seats can even handle weights between 40-50 pounds. It’s recommended never to place the rear-facing seat in place of the front seat because of the presence of an active airbag.

Importance of rear-facing position and proper installation

The rear-facing car seat supports the infant’s back and neck. This is important because the child might face forward momentum while the car is moving. Apart from this, the car seat’s hard shell protects the child’s head portion because of the cushioning.

Virginia Rear-Facing Car Seat Laws

Children are advised to ride in the rear-facing car safety seat until they attain the maximum weight, height limit, and age over two years. Virginia’s rear-facing car seat law is also called the infant car seat Law.

Safety benefits of rear-facing car seats

  • It is small, so it is easy to carry and handle.
  • It is ideal only for travelling, so it cannot be used for sleeping and feeding, making it hygienic.
  • The seat provides good support to the neck region.

Transition to forward-facing seats

Once the child outgrows the upper age limit of the rear-facing car seat, that is, 2 years, they can sit in the forward-facing car seat.

Virginia Forward-Facing Car Seat Laws

Once the child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, they can ride in the forward-facing car seats equipped with a 5-point harness. The forward-facing seat is also installed on the back seat. Children between 2 to 4 years old should sit in the forward-facing car seat.

Requirements for forward-facing car seats

Virginia forward-facing car seat has a lap-shoulder belt, LATCH system or only a lap belt. Most forward-facing car seats can support weights up to 65 pounds. Therefore it becomes easier for the children to ride until they reach the age of 7. The seat must be installed correctly in the right place, which means it must not move from its place, even for 1 inch.

Virginia Seat Belt Laws for Children

Once the child outgrows the booster car seat, they can sit on the front seat with a seat belt that fits them properly. Checking if the seatbelt is attached correctly or not is essential. For proper installation of the seatbelt, check for these conditions;

  • The knee of the child must bend over the vehicle’s seat cushion, and the feet must rest flat.
  • Check whether the child has a straight back or not.
  • The shoulder belt must rest over the chest. The shoulder belt should not cross the neck or shoulder.
  • It should not fit low over the hips.
  • The Belt should ideally touch the upper region of the thigh.

So these are a few essential points you need to remember while using the seat belt.

Importance of using proper restraints and belts

  1. Buckling up helps to keep the child secure and safe inside the vehicle. On the other hand, if buckling has not done correctly, it can result in the ejection of the child from the first, which could be deadly.
  2. Proper use of seat belts can protect the person from severe injuries that could happen during an accident. It is always advised to keep the car seat strap below the to keep the child at the lowest risk during a car crash.
  3. Other benefits associated with buckling up properly include reducing the rate of fatal injuries by up to 45%. Even the critical injury rate is reduced by half. Not only that but even for light truck users, proper use of seats where can save the passenger, reducing the rate of fatal injuries by up to 60%.

Installing Your Child’s Car Seat in Virginia

The installation process of car seats is crucial to limit the injuries that can happen due to improper restraints. Here are a few steps which one can follow to install the car seat properly:

  • Read all the instructions carefully. Every car seat is different from one other, so it’s essential to know the details of the car seat from the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Check for the compatibility of the car seat. This is because not all seats can fit perfectly inside the car, so you will get a seat that works perfectly with your vehicle.
  • The car seat should be placed on the back seat once you have set the car; check that the belt has not been twisted from anywhere.
  • Ensure that the car seat base is at a right angle. Many car seats contain an indicator which can help you.
  • If you have a car older than the year 1997 when it’s essential to use a clip for locking the seat.
  • Once you have installed the car properly, visit the child car safety inspection station.

Resources for assistance with installation and inspection

Suppose you need any help regarding the installation process and you need help finding the car inspection station. You can take the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration service in that case. On this website, you will find information about every car seat.

Staying Up-to-Date with Virginia’s Car Seat Laws

It’s essential to stay updated with the Virginia car seat law information as the policy changes with time, such as information related to the registration process of the car seats or when the car is called for recall. So the only way the manufacturer can inform you is by registration number. So it becomes highly essential to get your car seat registered.

Penalties for Non-Compliance with Virginia’s Car Seat Laws

A civil penalty of $50 is imposed on a person if they fail to adhere to the car seat law. If any individual has been found guilty for a second time, whether on the same date or a different date, they will be penalized to pay a fine of $500. An additional civil penalty charge of $20 is also assessed from the person if they do not carry the exemption statement in case of medical reasons. All the collected fines are used as a special fund for purchasing the safety seat for people of low family income.


In conclusion, the Virginia car seat law states that the child must sit inside the child’s safety car seat until they reach a certain height and weight limit. Children under 8 must sit inside the child restraint device while travelling in a car. This law is essential to ensure the safety of children and reduce the fatality rate during car crashes every year.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1.    Can a 10-year-old sit in the front seat in Virginia?

Children who are older than 10 years can sit in the front seat of the car with proper seat belt restraints.

2.    Can a 7-year-old ride in the front seat in Virginia?

No, a child under eight cannot sit in the front seat. They can only sit in the booster seat.

3.    Can I put my 4-year-old in a booster seat?

Once the child reaches age 4, move them from a forward-facing seat to a booster car seat.

4.    Can a 9-year-old sit in the front seat near West Virginia?

As per Virginia law, children above eight can sit in the car’s front side but with a seat belt.

5.    What age can a child sit up front in Virginia?

The Virginia car seat law states,” Children over 8 years old can sit in the front-facing car seat.”

6.    When can my child ride without a booster seat in West Virginia?

Once a child reaches the age 8, they can sit without any child restraint device.

7.    How do I get a free car seat in Virginia?

Under the Low-Income safety seat program by the Virginia Department of Health, parents who cannot afford the car seat can get it for free. For more information on this program, contact the Virginia Department of Health at 1-800-732-8333.

8.    Does everyone have to wear a seatbelt in Virginia?

Yes, all the passengers and drivers have to wear seatbelts. However, a few exceptions exist, such as medically unfit individual passengers who cannot wear a seatbelt.

9.    What car seat should a 7-year-old be in?​

Children under the age of 7 should sit in the booster car seat until they reach the maximum height and weight limit to sit in the car’s front seat.

10. Can a baby go in a taxi without a car seat?

A baby can sit without the car seat only when sitting in the backseat of the car.

11. How can I travel with my baby without a car seat?

If you carry a baby in a waist belt or on public transportation, you can only travel with your baby without a car seat.

About The Author

Hassan Zaka

I am an expert in accounting and have diverse experience in technical writing. I have written for various industries on finance, business, and technology. My writing style is clear and simple, and I use infographics and diagrams to make my writing engaging. I can benefit any organization needing technical writing services.

Follow Us:
My Cars Laws >> Seat Laws >> Virginia State >> Car seat laws in Virginia

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top