- Location: West Virginia
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Most of West Virginia's road rules become second nature through our years of driving, observation, and driver's education.
However, because laws often change, sometimes we don't know all the road rules we think we do. Two great resources for safety laws are West Virginia Code, Chapter 17: Roads and Highways and the Driver Licensing Handbook.
Below is information about some of the most commonly-asked about safety laws in West Virginia.
Since September 1993 and the implementation of West Virginia State Code 17C-15-49, wearing your safety belt in a motor vehicle is mandatory―and not just during the annual statewide Click It or Ticket campaigns.
- All drivers must wear a seat belt.
- All passengers in the front must wear a seat belt.
- All passengers in the back under the age of 18 must wear a seat belt.
- Violators can be fined up to $25.
Physical handicaps sometimes make it impossible to safely wear a seat belt. For more information about West Virginia seat belt waivers and how to obtain one, please refer to our Drivers with Disabilities section.
West Virginia State Code 17C-15-46 clearly and thoroughly outlines the rules regarding child safety seats.
Because people always want to know how big their child must be to stop using a booster:
- Children under the age of eight and shorter than four feet nine inches tall must be in an approved child safety seat if the vehicle is in motion.
- Violators can be fined between $10-$20.
Note that this code does not apply to operated-for-hire vehicles.
Cell phone restrictions:
- All drivers younger than 18 who hold either a learners permit or an intermediate license are banned from all cell phone use while driving.
- All drivers, regardless of age, are banned from using hand-held cell phones.
- All drivers younger than 18 who hold either a learners permit or an intermediate license are banned from texting while driving.
Are helmets required in West Virginia?
- Bicycle riders: For riders under the age of 15, yes! (West Virginia State Code 17C-11A-2)
- Motorcycle riders and passengers: Yes! (West Virginia State Code 17C-15-44)
- ATV riders and passengers: Yes! (West Virginia ATV Laws)
DMV.org's, How To Buy the Right Helmet, outlines what to look for when you're shopping for a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmet.
Per West Virginia State Code 17C-15-4, every motor vehicle must have two headlights in the front (one on each side), and every motorcycle or similar vehicle must have at least one headlight but no more than two. (Additional motorcycle headlight safety laws are covered in West Virginia State Code 17C-15-23.)
Of course, you need to know when to use those headlights, right? West Virginia State Code 17C-15-2 states:
- School buses and motorcycles, including similar vehicles such as mopeds, must use headlights every time they're on the highway.
- Every other motor vehicle must use headlights from sunset to sunrise, and when lighting is poor enough that they can't see other drivers and vehicles within 500 feet.
West Virginians are not allowed to leave their motor vehicles running unattended. According to West Virginia State Code 17C-14-1, a driver must turn off the car, lock the ignition, and remove the key. Leaving an unattended motor vehicle running is a misdemeanor and carries a first-offense fine of up to $100.
Leaving children or pets unattended in vehicles is dangerous for a variety of reasons. It can kill or injure (especially in hot or cold weather) and it may be illegal in your municipality. It also puts them at risk for kidnapping (or petnapping), and curious children may be tempted to push pedals or turn keys.
The best, point blank advice is to just never leave your child or pet unattended in a vehicle, regardless of the climate, the neighborhood, or whether you took the keys with you.
Driving drunk is cause for automatic license revocation. So is being convicted of three reckless driving violations in 23 months.
If you suspect someone is driving recklessly or while intoxicated, call 911 or the West Virginia State Police for instructions.Other Topics in This Section
- Traffic Alerts
- 511 Traffic Systems
- Tire Recalls
- Safety Laws
- How Emotions Affect Driving
- Driving in Hazardous Conditions
- Teen Drivers: A Beginner's Guide
- Seniors: When To Turn Over The Car Keys
- Packing Your First-Aid Kit
- Seven Senior Safety Suggestions
- Wildlife on the Road
- When to Call Wildlife Rescue
- Taking A Mature Driver Course
- Medications & Driving
- Night Driving
- Hallucinations on the Road
- How To Drive Distraction Free
- Treating Motion Sickness
- Road Rage: How To Deal With It