Traffic Safety Laws in Virginia
Helmets are required for all riders.
There is no statewide helmet law. However, the following jurisdictions do adhere to limited bicycle helmet laws based on age.
- Albemarle County
- City of Alexandria
- Amherst County
- Arlington County
- Clarke County
- City of Falls Church
- Floyd County
- City of Hampton
- James City County
- Town of Luray
- City of Manassas
- City of Manassas Park
- City of Norfolk
- Orange County
- City of Petersburg
- Prince William County
- Stafford County
- Town of Vienna
- Town of Wise
- York County
You must turn on your headlights:
- Between sunset and sunrise
- Whenever you use your windshield wipers
- When conditions make it so you can't see 500 ft ahead of you
A modulating headlight is permitted for daytime use.
When riding between sunset and sunrise, your bicycle must be equipped with a white headlight that's visible from up to 500 ft. Your bicycle must also possess a red rear reflector visible from up to 600 ft.
Anyone under 18 years old is banned from using cell phones or any other personal communication devices while driving.
Using a handheld personal communication device in a highway work zone is illegal for all driver's and carries a fine of $250 for a first offense.
Texting is banned for all drivers. In Virginia, it is considered a primary offense, which means police can pull you over if they suspect you of texting while driving. The fine is $125 for the first offense, and $250 for subsequent offenses.
Child Car Seat Laws
Children under 8 years old are required to be secured in a U.S. Department of Transportation approved child safety seat. The type of child safety seat varies by age*:
- Rear-facing child safety seats are required for children under 2 years old OR until they reach the maximum height and weight limitations set by the manufacturer.
- The child safety seat must be in a rear vehicle seat UNLESS the vehicle has no rear seat.
- Rear-facing can only be used in a front passenger seat if the airbag has been disabled.
- Forward-facing child safety seats and booster seats must be used until the child exceeds the maximum height and weight limitations set by the manufacturers.
- All kids under 8 years old must ride in a secured safety seat that's approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
- The driver is responsible for making sure kids under 18 years old are using a safety belt.
*Listed requirements are based on a law effective on July 1, 2019. See the VA DMV child safety seat requirements prior to July 1, 2019.
Before ordering a child car seat, be sure to read our article on How to Buy a Child Safety Seat.
Reporting Drunk or Dangerous Drivers
Contact the Virginia State Police by dialing "#77" on your cell phone to report a drunk or dangerous driver. If possible provide the vehicle's license plate number, make, location and travel direction.
Unattended Kids in Cars
Call 911 if you suspect that an unattended child left in a locked vehicle is in danger. Remain at the vehicle until authorities arrive.
Unattended Pets in Cars
Call either the local police department or animal control unit if you sense that an unattended pet in a parked car is in danger. Provide the car's location, license plate number, make and model.