West Virginia Car Seat Laws
Car seat laws in West Virginia are put in place to keep babies, toddlers and young children safer while riding in passenger cars. Car crashes are one of the top causes of death or injury among young children, which is why booster seat laws and other regulations are so important.
Without knowing the correct age or weight that children need to be at in order to ride with an adult seat belt, parents and caregivers may be putting their children at risk.
Once you learn the correct booster seat age in West Virginia, you will have a better understanding of which seats are appropriate for your children at different stages. After you purchase the correct type of seat, you will need to install it correctly. When in doubt, it is always a good idea to have your car seat inspected at a check station in order to make sure you have installed it safely. Below, learn more about car seat safety in West Virginia and discover how to choose the correct seat for your child.
What are the car seat laws in West Virginia?
There are a variety of laws for car seats in West Virginia that you will want to learn before buying a car seat or traveling with your kids. Some regulations, such as the correct booster seat weight, are simply recommendations, while others, such as car seat ages, are mandatory under West Virginia laws. With that in mind, the laws you need to follow when using a car seat include the following:
- Children younger than eight years of age must ride in an age-appropriate car seat or booster seat.
- Children younger than eight years of age who reach four feet and nine inches in height may begin using an adult seat belt without a booster seat provided that the belt can be used safely, per the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.
- A driver may be exempt from booster seat regulations and other laws if he or she is transporting more passengers than there are seat belts in the vehicle while in compliance with federal safety standards, which may include school bus drivers with commercial driver’s licenses.
As you can see, the laws do not specify the exact type of booster seat or car seat that you need to use for children who are younger than eight years of age or shorter than four feet and nine inches in height.
Therefore, it is your responsibility to choose an age or size-appropriate seat for any children who are required to ride with a child safety restraint. Always refer to the car seat manufacturer’s specifications in order to choose the correct type of seat.
Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in West Virginia
Failing to meet the booster seat weight requirements or other laws can result in a traffic ticket as well as a fine. If a law enforcement officer observes you breaking the child passenger safety law, then you may receive a fine of $10 to $20. Violating the adult seat belt law, on the other hand, results in a fine of $25.
If you have children who are older than the booster car seat age, then you may receive this fine if you do not comply with the adult seat belt law. In any case, breaking a seat belt law does not constitute child neglect and any tickets you receive may not be used in civil cases as proof of negligence.
Note: As the driver, you will receive the citation on your driving record even if the parent of the child is in the car.
Types of Car Seats
While the West Virginia car seat requirements do not specify the exact type of seat you need to use for your children, there are a variety of guidelines you should follow. The different types of seats available, as well as the guidelines for each seat, are as follows:
- An infant car seat is a rear-facing design meant to be used for babies until they weigh 20 to 35 pounds.
- A forward facing car seat is equipped with a five-point safety harness and is meant to be used for children once they reach 40 pounds, which is usually around four years of age.
- A convertible seat transforms from a rear-facing seat into a forward-facing design when your child reaches the correct weight.
- An all-in-one seat is similar to a convertible seat, except that it also changes into a booster seat when your child is too big to ride in a five-point safety harness.
- A booster seat simply props your child up to the correct height needed to use an adult seat belt. Booster seats can be backless or have a high back, which provides more support.
In any of these designs, the safest car seats will be the ones that provide the most support for your child. For example, when your child reaches the car seat weight that is required for using a booster seat, your child will be safer in a high-back design if your car does not have high seat backs or headrests.
Always remember that different manufacturers have their own specifications. Read the instruction for each type of seat to determine if it is right for your child based on his or her size. Even the best car seats may not be safe if you buy the incorrect type for your child’s height or weight.
Car Seat Installation Information
Learning how to install a car seat is just as important as determining the correct type of seat for your children. When it comes to child car seat safety, keep in mind that rear-facing seats should never be placed in the front seat unless your car does not have back seats. If you need to place a car seat in the front, then you must turn off the airbag on the passenger side.
Furthermore, it is important to note that booster seats are not intended to be used with seat belts that only provide a lap belt. Always use boosters with adult seat belts that have a lap and shoulder strap. When in doubt, refer to the instructions from the car seat manufacturer.
After installing a car seat, it is helpful to have it inspected for safety. The child car seat laws in West Virginia do not require you to have your seat inspected, but it is always a good idea. Inspection stations are commonly found at locations such as:
- Emergency medical services (EMS) offices.
- Police departments.
- Fire stations.
- Community centers.
- County health departments.
- Places of worship.
Local DMV offices in West Virginia may also be able to suggest inspection locations.