Virginia Car Seat Laws (2022) – Front Seat Age and Booster Requirements

What is Virginia law for child car seats?

According to Virginia State Law, children under 8 years of age should be secured in an appropriate child restraint device in accordance with the car seat manufacturer’s instructions.

That’s a brief introduction to Virginia car seat laws. Here in this guide for VA car seat laws, we try to provide as many details as possible to explain the Virginia car seat laws on booster seat age and height requirements, rear-facing and forward-facing rules, and when a child can sit in the front seat in Virginia

Virginia Car Seat Laws Overview

Virginia Legislature in Section § 46.2-1095 on Child Restraint Devices reads: "Any person who drives [...] shall ensure that any child, up to age eight, whom he transports therein is provided with and properly secured in a child restraint device [...] in the back seat of a vehicle.

Virgina State Regulations

The child seat laws go into three car seat stages – rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster. So we also talk about VA car seat laws in these three categories.

Can’t wait to know the Virginia booster seat laws? Just click the booster field below.

Rear-Facing

Virginia Rear-facing Laws

Forward-Facing

Virginia Forward facing Rules

Booster

Virginia Booster Seat Laws

Virginia Car Seat Laws: Rear-Facing

Such child restraint device shall not be forward-facing until at least (i) the child reaches two years of age or (ii) the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the device.

Virginia Car Seat Laws § 46.2-1095 (A)

According to the new Virginia child safety seat laws effective July 1, 2019: 

A child should ride in a rear-facing safety seat until the age of two or the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing safety seat as prescribed by the manufacturer of the child safety seat.

According to the regulations, the child should stay in the rear-facing car seat until they reach the minimum weight or height limit for a forward-facing seat as stated by the car seat manufacturer.

Safety practices:
Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a vehicle with an active passenger airbag.

under 2 years old

Less than the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing seat

The most commonly seen minimum weight limits for forward-facing child safety seats range between 20-25 pounds.

If so, it’s better to keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible until their second birthday.

BEST REAR-FACING CAR SEAT

RF: 4-50 lbs/ 49″

Graco Extend2Fit

$234.99

RF: 4-35 lbs/ 32″

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Infant Car Seat
Graco SnugRide SnugLock

$159.99

Virginia Car Seat Laws: Forward Facing

Such child restraint device shall not be forward-facing until at least (i) the child reaches two years of age or (ii) the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the device.

Virginia Car Seat Laws § 46.2-1095 (A)

By Virginia law in section § 46.2-1095 A, children can be moved to a forward-facing car seat when they

  1. Are at least two years old, or
  2. Reach minimum weight limit for forward-facing car seats. 

The forward-facing seat must feature a 5-point harness and be installed in the back seat. 

It’s the best practice to stick to the 5-point harness as long as possible until the child reaches the upper weight or height limit of their forward-facing safety seat.

Most forward-facing car seats are designed with an upper weight limit of 65 pounds and an upper height limit of 49-inches. That typically happens at the age of 5-7 years.

2 years or older

Minimum weight limit for a forward-facing seat

BEST FRONT-FACING CAR SEAT

FF: 22-65 lbs/ 49″

Graco Extend2Fit

$234.99

FF: 22-65 lbs/ 49″

Graco SlimFit LX 3-in-1 Car Seat
Graco SlimFit

$219.99

Virginia Booster Seat Laws

The Virginia car seat laws don’t mention booster age and weight requirements. 

The rules on booster seats can be found on the implements from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle that talks about the four stages of car seats.

When the child reaches the upper weight and height limits specified for a forward-facing car seat, a belt positioning booster can be considered for use. A child should remain in the booster seat until he/she is at least 8 years of age and 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Virginia DMV Highway Safety

Any person who drives on the highways of Virginia any motor vehicle manufactured after January 1, 1968, shall ensure that any child, up to age eight, whom he transports therein is provided with and properly secured in a child restraint device of a type which meets the standards adopted by the United States Department of Transportation.

Virginia Car Seat Laws § 46.2-1095 (A)

According to Virginia rules, any child under the age of 8 must ride in a child safety seat or booster seat, in the back seat, until he or she reaches 57 inches in height.

Once the child outgrows their forward-facing seat, they can be moved to a booster seat. 

There is no weight or height requirement mentioned in VA laws when you can switch the harnessed forward-facing seat to a booster. You have to refer to the seat manual provided by the manufacturer.

under 8 years old

less than 57 inches tall

BEST BOOSTER SEAT

Booster: 40-100 lbs/ 57″

Graco TurboBooster

$29.99

Booster: 40-100 lbs/ 57″

Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1 Harness Booster Seat
Graco Atlas Harness Booster

$139.99

Virginia Seat Belt Laws for Child

Any person who drives on the highways of Virginia any motor vehicle manufactured after January 1, 1968, shall ensure that any child, up to age eight, whom he transports therein is provided with and properly secured in a child restraint device of a type which meets the standards adopted by the United States Department of Transportation.

Virginia Car Seat Laws § 46.2-1095 (A)

Any person transporting another person less than 18 years old, except for those required pursuant to subsection A to be secured in a child restraint device, shall ensure that such person is provided with and properly secured by an appropriate safety belt system

Virginia Car Seat Laws § 46.2-1095 (B)

After a child outgrows their booster seats, they can be secured with a seat belt, just like an adult.

Again, in law, there are no weight, or height requirements for a child to use the vehicle seat belt.

But interpreting the rules in section § 46.2-1095 A and B: A child who is at least 8 years old but under 18 years old should be properly secured in an appropriate seat belt system

It’s typically when the child is at least 4 feet 9 inches in height to get the shoulder belt to fit across the chest.

You can check if your child fits the seat belt well or not:

  • The child’s knees bend over the edge of the vehicle seat cushion and feet should rest flat on the floor.
  • The child is sitting with their back against the seat and not slouching.
  • The shoulder belt rests across their chest midway between the shoulder and neck.
  • The lap belt fits low and snug across the hips, touching the upper thighs.

at least 8 years old

under 18 years of age

57 inches or taller

Virginia Front Seat Laws

Further, child restraint devices shall be placed in the back seat of a vehicle. In the event the vehicle does not have a back seat, the child restraint device may be placed in the front passenger seat only if the vehicle is either not equipped with a passenger side airbag or the passenger side airbag has been deactivated.

Virginia Car Seat Laws § 46.2-1095 (A)

As a rule of thumb, children under age 12 should ride properly restrained in the center of the back seat.

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle

When can a child sit in the front seat in Virginia?

VA car seat law requires children younger than 8 years old to be restrained in a child safety seat in the back seat.

Virginia law also says you can’t put a rear-facing car seat in the front. If the car has no back seat or it is unavailable, make sure the airbags in the front seat are inactive.

The laws do not make it clear if a child at the age of 9 years, 10 years, or 11 years old can sit in the front. But the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle suggests following NHTSA’s tips: it’s best to keep children under 12 in the back seat. 

Legally, it’s okay for a child at 9 years, 10 years or 11 years to sit in the front seat in Virginia.

Legal Age to Sit in the Front Seat

at least 8 years old

Recommended Age to Sit in the Front Seat

at least 12 years old

Penalty for Breaking Virginia Car Seat Laws

Violations of Oregon’s car seat laws are considered Class D traffic infractions and violators will receive a fine minimum of $115.

Virginia Car Seat Laws Apply for

The drive is responsible for the child’s safety in the car seat. They should make sure the child be secured in a proper child restraint system.

Exceptions:

The law does not apply to any person operating:

  • Taxicabs, school buses, executive sedans, or limousines
  • Emergency medical services agency vehicle, fire company vehicle, fire department vehicle, or law-enforcement agency vehicle while in the performance of his official duties

Taxi Car Seat Law in Virginia

Virginia is one of those states where taxis are exempt from child restraint laws.

Age, Weight, Height Requirements in Virginia Laws

Virginia Law requires that all children age 7 years and younger be properly secured in a child safety seat or booster seat. There is no height or weight requirement. Only the age for best in accordance with four stages of the car seat.

  • Rear-facing (stage 1): under 2 years of age
  • Forward-facing (stage 2): no specific age, weight, or height requirements for this car seat stage, supposedly after the second birthday
  • Booster (stage 3): under 8 years old, better for a long time after the child exceeds the weight or height limit of their boosters.
  • Seat belt (stage 4): after the booster seat stage, no specific age, weight, or height requirements in the laws.

Best Car Seats for Travel in Virginia

Based on the VA child car seat laws, here are the best car seats that will ride your boys or girls safely without breaking the rules.

To help parents quickly find the best option based on their child’s current age, this list is made by age, which is the only car seat requirement in VA.

Birth - 2 Years

30-lb rear-facing maximum weight

Further Information

Best Car Seats for One Year Old

Birth - 4 Years

4-8 Years

All 50 US States Car Seat Laws

FAQs on Virginia Car Seat Laws

What is the booster seat law in Virginia?

Virginia Law on booster seats requires that all children under 8 years old be properly secured in a child safety seat or booster seat. There is no height or weight requirement.

What age can a child ride in the front seat in Virginia?

The Virginia laws on child safety in a car do not mention front seat rules

However, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle suggests that a child under age 12 should ride properly restrained in the back seat. 

How old does a child have to be to ride in the front seat in Virginia?

According to Virginia laws, your child can sit in the front seat after they are 8 years old, given, they are using a seat belt. Virginia law also says you can’t put a rear-facing car seat in the front.

If the child is over age 12, are there height/weight requirements for a child to sit in front?

There are no height/weight requirements for a child to sit in the front seat if they are 12 years or older.

But children are much safer seated and properly restrained in the back seat regardless of age or the presence of an airbag.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, putting a child in the back seat instead of the front seat reduces the risk of death by 27 percent. Given this, if a child is very small, he is safer if restrained in the back.

Does 7 years old need a car seat in VA?

According to the Virginia child safety seat laws, children under 8 years old should be properly restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat.

So 7 year old still need a car seat in Virginia.

Can a 9 year old sit in the front seat in Virginia?

According to Virginia laws and regulations from DMV, the back seat is the safest place to place a child under 13 years old.

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

It’s better to keep a child under 13 years old in the back seat, according to the rules from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

Sources