Seat Belts, Air Bags and Child Safety Seats Law in VA

It is recommended that you should wear seat belts at all times if you want to increase your chances of surviving in a car crash. The likelihood of you avoiding serious injury is also doubled and it is always better to be safe than sorry. So learn a little bit more about the seat belts, air bags and child safety seat laws in Virginia:

seat-belt

Seat Belts

All passengers in the front seat and the driver have to wear seat belts when driving in Virginia. If the passenger is below the age of 18, then it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that the passenger has got their seat belt secured or they are riding in the child safety seat.

Drivers also have to wear the lap seat belt against the thighs, and the shoulder belt should come across the chest and over the shoulder. You should never wear your seat belt below your arm or behind your back, and make sure that both the lap and shoulder belts are comfortable. Pregnant women should wear the lap belt as low as possible on the pelvis.

Exception:

If the driver or passenger has a medical or physical condition, which doesn’t allow them to wear a seat belt, then the seat belt requirement law may be waived off. Although proof must be provided by a licensed physician and the person must carry a written and signed statement from the physician, which identifies them with the reason for having the law waived off.

Air Bags

Air bags help cushion the drivers and the passengers when they are thrown forward from the impact of a front-end accident. When they are used properly with seat belts they can save a life and keep the driver and the passengers from getting injured. The air bag reduces the force of the impact and also keeps the neck, head and chest from hitting the dashboard or steering column.

If your vehicle has got air bags:

  • Make sure that all passengers are buckled up
  • Make sure that your seat is at least 10 inches back from the steering wheel
  • Tilt the steering wheel downwards if it can be adjusted, which will position the air bag towards your chest, rather than your neck and head.
  • Make sure that all children under 12 years old are safely buckled in the back seat of the car.

Child Safety Seats

All children that are under 8 years old have to be secured properly in a child safety seat when they are riding in vehicles that have been manufactured after 1st January 1968. The child may ride in the front seat on the condition that the vehicle doesn’t have a back seat and if the car has its passenger side air bag turned off. This law may be waived off if due to the condition of the child’s physical fitness, weight or other medical reasons it would be unreasonable for the child to ride in the safety seat. A signed and written statement from the physician stating the grounds for waiving off the law must be carried by the driver when they are transporting the child.

It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that the child is properly secured. If drivers are convicted in violation of the child restraint law, they will be charged $50.00 and repeating the offense may result in a $500 penalty.

 

Penalties and Conviction-Related Suspensions and Revocations

Your driving privileges may be revoked or suspended by the DMV or the court if you violate the driving laws of Virginia. You will not be allowed to drive if your driving license has been suspended, and you will have to pay the necessary fees in order to reinstate your license, once the suspension has ended. You will also need to show your legal presence proof, which will determine whether you are a citizen of the United States or have been given authority to be in the United States. During the suspension, if your license has expired, then you will have to present your legal presence proof and also pass the vision, road skills and two-part knowledge exams in order to reinstate your driving privileges.
penalties
In case your driving license has been revoked, it will mean that you are no longer allowed to drive. The only way to restore that privilege is by showing your legal presence proof once the period for revocation has passed. You will then have to complete the road skills, vision screening and the two-part knowledge exams and pay the necessary fees to re-apply for your driving license.

Convictions related to Revocations and Suspensions

If you are convicted of the following offenses then the DMV or the court may revoke or suspend your driving license:

  • If you drive while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)
  • If you have injured another person while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • If you drive after having your license revoked or suspended for a DUI
  • If you drive a vehicle that doesn’t have the device for ignition interlock, when the DMV or court has made it a requirement.
  • If you make a statement that is false to the DMV
  • If you are at the scene of a crash where someone has been killed or injured and fail to either identify yourself or stop at the scene.
  • Involuntary or voluntary manslaughter due to driving a vehicle
  • Involuntary or voluntary manslaughter while you are driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
  • If you commit any drug offense, even if it doesn’t involve a motor vehicle
  • If you commit a felony that involves a motor vehicle
  • If you take another person’s driving license exam or appear for them to renew their license
  • If you try to elude the police

The court can also revoke or suspend your driving privileges if you are convicted of any of the following offenses:

  • Aggressive or reckless driving
  • Drive a vehicle without a driving license
  • If you drive while your license has been suspended or revoked for a conviction that is non DUI related
  • If you refused to a take a breath/blood test when you are charged with driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol
  • If you fail to pay for gas


If you are convicted of any criminal or traffic convictions, or you don’t pay your court costs and fines within 30 days, then the court will suspend your driving license. If you are unable to pay the amount, then the court may offer you with the option to pay in installments.

Different Types of License One can get in Virginia

When you are driving, you will have to carry your driving license or learner’s permit, and misusing the driving license or learner’s permit is strictly illegal. You may have your license suspended, be sentenced to jail or fined.
license-card

Learner’s Permit

The learner’s permit allows you to drive your vehicle if a licensed driver that is above 21 years old is also seated in the passenger seat. The driver must be alert, should be able to help you, and have a valid driving license as well. The licensed driver must also be between the ages of 18, 19 or 20 and must be your brother, sister, step brother, step sister, half-brother or half-sister. If you are above the age of 19 or more, then you will have to hold a valid learner’s permit for 60 days or should have a driver’s education certificate in order to apply for driving license.

Driver’s License

A driving license ensures that you are able to operate a small truck or vehicle that is less than 26,001 pounds and is also exempt from the requirements of the commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Commercial Driver’s License

The commercial driver’s license (CDL) ensures that you are able to drive passenger buses, school buses, tank vehicles and tractor-trailers for 15 or more occupants (including the drivers, or any vehicles that are carrying hazardous vehicles.

School Bus Driver’s License

If you want to drive a school bus that can carry 15 occupants, then you will have to obtain a commercial driving license. You will have to take the school bus and commercial driver tests to acquire the school bus endorsement on your driving license. You will have the restriction of carrying only 15 occupants on the license.

Motorcycle Learner’s Permit

The motorcycle learner’s permit ensures that you are able to drive a motorcycle before midnight and after 4 am. You can drive the motorcycle when you are under supervision from a person that is 21 years old, has got a motorcycle license and will help you from another motor bicycle alongside you. No other person, other than the driver can operate the motorcycle. You should also wear a helmet that is approved for motorcycle drivers in Virginia.

Motorcycle Driver’s License

If you want to drive a motorcycle in Virginia, then you will have to pass the driving license two-part knowledge exam, the motorcycle road skills test, and the motorcycle knowledge exam. If you have got a driving license already then you can add the Class M to your license. If you don’t have a driver’s license, then you can acquire a driving license that is restricted to Class M that will allow you to drive you a motorcycle.

International Driving License

The international driving license doesn’t allow you to drive in Virginia. It is basically a foreign translation of the driving license that you hold already, when you travel outside the United States. The permit will be issued by your local AAA, except to drivers that have already got their driving privileges revoked or suspended. If you are visiting the United States from another country, then you may use the driving license that was issued in your country. It should however also carry the translation of the license. All international driving license that are marketed by businesses in the private sector are not valid and don’t allow you to drive a motor vehicle in Virginia legally. Selling a document that claims to be a driving license is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Two-Part Knowledge Exam for Drivers in Virginia

If you don’t have a valid driving license of Canada, France, the Republic of Korea, or any of the U.S. states, then you will have to take the knowledge exam. The exam basically tests how much you know about the motor vehicle laws, traffic signs and safe driving. The Two-Part knowledge exam will be conducted on a computer and will have 10 questions about traffic signs in the first part of the exam.
exam-drivers

The second part of the exam will have multiple choice questions and will be a general knowledge test. In order to pass the test you will have to answer at least 80% of the questions correctly. If you don’t pass the exam and you are also:

  • Under the age of 18 –

You will have to wait for 15 days before you attempt to retake the exam. For instance, if you take the exam on 1st January and fail, then you can’t retake the exam until 17th January.

  • Above 18 years or older –

You can retake the exam within the time of 15 days but will also have to pay a fee of $2.00

The Two-Part knowledge exam for drivers in Virginia can only be taken once a day. The exam is also available in audio version, in American Sign Language and numerous other languages. If you are taking the test in another language, then you may not use any translators.

If you take the Two-Part knowledge exam and fail it on 3 occasions, then you will not be allowed to take the test a 4th time until you are able to pass and complete the classroom part of driver’s education at any driver training school that has been approved by the Department of Education or the DMV. All drivers who are 19 years or older can also take advantage of the option to complete the course according to the Virginia Driver’s Manual.

The date of completion for the examination has to be after the date that you have failed in the Two-Part Knowledge exam for the 3rd time in a row. Once you have completed the driver’s education course successfully, you will be given a certificate of completion by the DMV, and you will then be able to take your knowledge exam once more.

When you are taking part in the Two-Part knowledge exam for drivers in Virginia, you are not able to do the following:

  • Get any type of help while you are taking the exam
  • Try to help any other person during the exam
  • Attempt to attain the questions and answers before you have taken the exam
  • Give any other person the questions and answers of the exam
  • Use any cell phone or gadget when you are giving the exam.

All drivers in Virginia have to take the Two-Part Knowledge exam if they want to attain a valid driving license in Virginia. It is recommended that you prepare yourself well when you are taking the exam in order to clear it on the first attempt.

 

Traffic Stops and Traffic Crashes stats in Virginia

When you are stopped by a police officer in Virginia, you should do the following:
traffic-crashes

  • Remain collected and calm
  • Pull off on the side of the road and get as far away from traffic as possible
  • Turn on the flashers
  • Turn off the radio, engine and any device that can cause problems while communicating with the officer
  • Roll down the window so that you are able to communicate with the officer
  • Fasten your safely belt and make sure that all passengers are wearing their safety belts
  • Don’t get out of the vehicle unless you are asked by the officer
  • Keep your hands on the steering wheel and ensure that they are in plain view. Make sure that all passengers also do the same.
  • Don’t make movements that would suggest that you are hiding something or trying to reach for something.
  • Carry all your proper identification: proof of insurance, a valid driver’s license and proof of registration for your vehicle. Show the documents to the police officer when they ask you to reach for them, whilst you keep one of your hands on the steering wheel.
  • If the police officer is not in uniform or is driving in an unmarked car, request to see their identification.
  • Ask the officer to clarify all your questions and be polite.
  • If you are given a citation by the officer, never argue, since you will get the chance to do that in court.
  • You will have to sign the citation and refusing to sign on it may result in you getting arrested and being asked to go to the police station.

Traffic Crashes

If you are involved in a traffic crash, then you must:

  • You should remain at the scene of the crash and don’t block traffic. You can move the vehicles before the police arrive at the scene without ensuring that the traffic is disturbed.
  • You should give help to anyone that is injured and don’t attempt to move the injured person from a wrecked vehicle, unless you have got the necessary medical training or there is the risk of fire.
  • Report the crash to the police and as soon as possible.
  • Exchange all information with the other people at the site of the crash. Make sure that you get the following information:
  1. Driver’s license number, address and name of the drivers
  2. The license number of the vehicles
  3. The address and name of anyone that is injured
  4. The address and name of the witness
  5. The insurance policy number, address and name of other vehicles
  6. Notify the insurance company as soon as possible

All law enforcement officers are required to provide a written crash report to the DMV, whenever a traffic accident results in the unfortunate injury or death of any person. Any property damage that is in excess of $1,500 also has to be reported. All the accidents will be recorded at the DMV records of each driver that is involved in the accident.