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Northam signs bill requiring child safety seats to remain rear-facing until the age of two

Photo: File Photo, Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- Starting in July 2019, children under the age of two, or until a child reaches the minimum weight limit, by law must be in a rear-facing child restraint seat.

Governor Ralph Northam has signed HB 708 into law.

The summary of the bill states:

Rear-facing child restraint devices. Prohibits child restraint devices from being forward-facing until, at least, the child reaches two years of age or until the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the device. The bill expands the reasons that a physician may determine that it is impractical for a child to use a child restraint system to include the child's height.

The current law requires that any child, up to age eight is properly secured in a child restraint device that meets the standards adopted by the United States Department of Transportation.

AAA said that children are 75-percent less likely to die or sustain serious injury in a rear-facing seat.

Nine states already mandate the measure by law: California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

Exceptions to the requirement, under the current law, can be made if a doctor determines that the use of a child restraint system is impractical for size, physical unfitness, or other medical reasons.

Those with a child in the vehicle would have to carry a signed written statement from a physician at all times.

A violation of the new law, would be the same as existing penalties: first violations are subject to a civil penalty of $50 and second or subsequent offenses on different dates are subject to a civil penalty of up to $500.

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