Virginia strives to keep all children safe while they travel in passenger vehicles. Updates to Virginia car seat laws and motor vehicle codes updates for 2022 continue to focus on protecting children as they travel in cars.
Some alterations to 2022’s car seat laws and motor vehicle codes include the types of car seats required for children, whether a child can ride in the front seat, and other related mandates.
Virginia’s Basic Car Seat Laws for 2022
Virginia requires parents to keep their children in car seats until they are eight years old, per the Virginia Department of Health. Additionally, parents must use seats according to standards issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
The DOT recommends different types of car seats based on the age of your child.
Rear-Facing Car Seats
Children from the ages of birth to two years old may use a rear-facing car seat. All children under two years old should use this kind of chair per Virginia’s laws. After the age of two, your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the chair’s weight or height limit.
Forward-Facing Car Seats
Forward-facing car seats are appropriate for some children from the age of two to seven. Move your child to one of these seats after they outgrow a rear-facing car seat. Generally, children remain in these seats until they reach the chair’s weight or height limit.
Some children use booster seats from the age of four. The DOT recommends that some children should continue using a booster seat until around the age of 12. However, the laws in Virginia only require you to use a car seat until your child turns eight.
Penalties for Not Using Car Seats in Virginia
It is against the law to transport a child under the age of eight without a car seat in Virginia. Drivers who violate this regulation may face a fine of $50 for a first-time offense, per the Virginia Department of Health.
Virginia treats subsequent violations of the law more seriously. A second violation may lead to a fine of up to $500. However, Virginia makes exceptions for children with a valid medical reason not to ride in a car seat.
In order to avoid a fine, make sure you have a doctor’s note explaining the medical exemption whenever you drive with the child in your vehicle.
Exemptions for Taxis and Ordered Vehicles in Virginia
Virginia provides an exemption on child seat laws if you travel in a taxi or another ordered vehicle. While in these vehicles, children do not need to be secured in car seats or boosters.
Keep in mind that car accidents happen even while driving in a taxi. For this reason, many experts recommend that you use a car seat even when traveling by taxi or ordered vehicle to promote your child’s safety.
Regulations on Replacing Your Car Seat Following a Collision
As of 2022, Virginia requires you to replace your car seat if you were involved in a car accident and could not drive away afterward. Sometimes, car seats look perfectly fine after a collision, but significant and hidden damage could prevent them from working properly.
Generally, experts recommend that you replace a car seat after any accident. However, you only legally have to replace the chair after severe collisions.
Most car seats function properly for around six years. After six years, components may begin to wear out, even if you were never in a collision. At this point, you may want to inspect the seat thoroughly to determine if it needs to be replaced.
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2022 Regulations for Driving with a Child in the Front Seat
Under Virginia’s most recent laws, drivers have the legal right to allow a child to ride in the front seat as long as they’re over the age of 8. However, parents should be aware that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that children stay in the back until the age of 12.
According to the CDC, airbags act as a serious safety hazard to children riding in the front seat. Specifically, parents should never use a rear-facing car seat in the vehicle’s front seat. If the airbag deploys around a rear-facing car seat, it could fatally injure a child.
Virginia’s 2022 Regulations on Smoking with a Child in the Car
In addition to regulations regarding the usage of car seats, Virginia has specific laws about smoking in a vehicle with a child. Any individual who smokes in the car with children younger than 15 years old may face a fine of up to $100, per Va. Code § 46.2-810.1.
Virginia instituted this law to limit exposure to the dangerous toxins found in cigarette smoke. Children are often more sensitive to the chemicals found in cigarette smoke than adults. Secondhand smoke can lead to conditions such as:
- Respiratory disease
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Ear Infections
Driving in a car further concentrates the chemicals found in cigarette smoke, making it more hazardous to children’s health.
Laws on Leaving a Child in the Car in Virginia
Virginia has no laws about leaving your child in a car as of 2022. Currently, you have the legal right to leave your child in the vehicle. However, the CDC advises against this. It notes that outdoor temperatures can fluctuate wildly, putting your child at risk of heatstroke or hypothermia.
Learn More About Car Seats
Virginia strives to make roadway travel safe for people of all ages, including children. For more information about Virginia’s car seat laws and motor vehicle code updates, call the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC at (571) 229-1800.