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New Virginia Car Seat Law Takes Effect July 1st

If you’re a parent, grandparent, or caregiver for an infant or toddler, take a moment this weekend to check if your child’s car seat is compliant with the new law.

Shannon Power, certified car seat technician, uses a rolled-up diaper to help safely secure a 2-month-old child in his car seat. U.S. Air Force photo / Senior Airman Jared Duhon

by Lenny Richardson, Legal Assistant, Burnett & Williams, Reston, Leesburg. Winchester

A new safety law goes into effect Monday July 1st 2019, aimed at decreasing children’s injuries in car accidents in Virginia. The bill was passed by the 2018 Virginia General Assembly and signed into law last year, but lawmakers wanted to give parents and families time to accommodate.

Starting Monday, any child under the age of two must be secured in a rear-facing car seat, unless they meet the minimum weight requirement of a forward facing car seat. The Center for Disease Control has long recommended rear-facing seats from birth until age 2-4, and many child restraint systems will already be compliant, but it’s worth taking the time this weekend to check the key details at the Virginia Department of Health’s web page here.

Key takeaways:

  • Child restraint devices are required until a child turns 8.
  • Rear-facing child seats must be placed in the back seat unless there isn’t one.
  • Car seats can be used in the front seat only if there is no active airbag.
  • Children must use a rear-facing seat until age 2 or until their weight is high enough to meet specific manufacturer minimums for a front-facing seat.
  • Children are no longer allowed to ride in cargo areas without safety restraint.
  • This new law is “primary enforcement,” so no other violation is needed to trigger a ticket.
  • Penalties range from $50 for a first offence up to $500 for repeat offenders
  • The VDH also notes that “there are assistance programs for low-income residents who cannot afford a safety seat.”

If you have questions about proper fitting for child seats, you can read our recent blog on the subject, or give your local police or fire department a call. Proper installation and use of car seats is essential to protecting children from serious car or truck accident injuries.

If you’ve been injured in a serious traffic accident, we’re one of Virginia’s most experienced personal injury law firms, and we’re here for you in convenient offices around the Commonwealth. In Northern Virginia call 703-777-1650. In Charlottesville and Culpeper call 540-308-4080. In Greater Richmond call 804-415-4531.