One of the most important Virginia motor vehicle code updates to know for 2019 is that children must now stay in rear-facing car seats until age 2 or until they reach their car seat manufacturer’s minimum weight limit for forward facing.
For example, if a car seat’s minimum forward-facing weight limit is 25 pounds and your 22-month-old child weighs 26 pounds, you can legally turn the car seat around so it faces forward. However, government officials and medical professionals agree it is best to keep children in rear-facing seats for as long as safely possible.
Virginia legislators updated the law, which takes effect on July 1, 2019, in response to recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The organization stated that rear-facing car seats better protect the head, spine, and neck of smaller, still-developing children.
Details of the New Law
Children who are 2 and under the car seat manufacturer’s minimum weight limit must ride in rear-facing car seats in the back seats of vehicles. If a vehicle has no back seat and the front passenger seat’s side air bag is deactivated or it has no air bag, the child can sit in a safety seat in the front.
This law applies to any vehicle that was manufactured after Jan. 1, 1968, but it does not impact:
- Executive sedans
- School buses
Prior to these changes, children under age 7 had to be in a car safety seat and, if available, the seat had to be placed in the back seat of the vehicle.
Parts of the Law that Remain Unchanged
The new law does not impact safety measures for older children and adults riding in motor vehicles. Children ages 7 and under must remain in car seats or booster seats that are placed in the rear of vehicles. Those age 8 and older must wear seat belts.
Penalties for Breaking the Law
Anyone who fails to comply with the new car seat laws will be issued a traffic summons and forced to pay a fine of $50. The Commonwealth may impose penalties of up to $500 for subsequent violations.
Get a Free Case Consultation
If a faulty seat belt or faulty child safety seat led to a car accident injury, then you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and other losses. Call the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC at 571-229-1800 for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.