Virginia's child restraint law generally applies to all children younger than eight years old. However, the law provides exceptions for certain types of vehicles and situations.
Here are the basics of the law and penalties for a violation.
Virginia requires that drivers use a child restraint system that meets the standards of the United States Department of Transportation and is properly secured. Such a device cannot be forward-facing until the child reaches two years old or the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint system.
Also, drivers must place children in the vehicle's back seat. If the vehicle doesn't have a backseat, the driver can put children in the front seat only if the vehicle doesn't have airbags or they have been deactivated.
Virginia's child restraint law doesn't apply to a person who's transporting a child using public transportation, including a taxi, school bus, or emergency vehicle.
Virginia also provides a medical exception for certain children. Whenever a licensed physician determines that the use of a child restraint system would be impractical, the driver doesn't have to follow the child restraint requirements. However, drivers must carry a signed note from a physician verifying the exemption. The note must identify the child and the grounds for the exemption. A driver who fails to carry this physician's note can be fined $20 per incident.
The fines for violating the child restraint law depend on the driver's history of violating this law. For a first offense, the judge will fine the driver $50. For a second offense or subsequent offense, the judge can fine the driver up to $500.
However, the Department of Motor Vehicles won't add demerit points to the driver's record for these violations.
From time to time, recalls are issued for child car seats. To find out about recalls, you can register with the NHTSA to receive recall information about the seat you have or search for recalls that have already been issued.