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Traveling with Kids? What You Need to Know about Florida's Car Seat Laws

Planning a road trip this Summer? You'll want to be sure you have the most updated information on Florida's laws regarding child safety. Here's what you need to know:

Florida's Car Seat Laws

Florida Law takes child safety seriously. Florida's traffic statute provides a specific section concerning children and car seats, which can be found under Florida Statutes Chapter 316.613,

The Law states that all children 5 years or younger must have a proper car seat based on their age. All car seats must be crash-tested and federally approved. Children 3 years old and younger need the full car seat, and children 4 and 5 years old need booster seats.

There are exceptions for booster seats for medical emergencies and children with medical conditions. If a child doesn’t use a car seat because of a medical condition, you must have documentation from a health care professional to present to law enforcement. There’s also an exception in the booster seat law for giving someone else’s child a ride without pay.

What's Florida Recommendation for Car Seats?

Beyond the scope of the law, Florida also recommends that drivers follow the recommendations of The National Highway Traffic Association (NHTSA)law, which makes car seat recommendations based on the child’s age and size. For example, even though Florida’s age for full car seats is to age 3, NHTSA recommends full car seats to age 4.

NHTSA also recommends booster seats at least to ages 8-12. Florida law may be more lenient, but NHTSA suggests using a booster seat until a child is 12 years old. NHTSA also recommends that children remain in their booster seats until they fit in a seat belt properly.

What's My Responsibility as a Driver?

Your responsibility changes as a driver, based on whether the child you're transporting is your own. Parents are responsible for the children that they transport. If you drive your own child, there’s no exception to the car seat rule. If you’re driving someone else’s child as a favor, the booster seat is optional. Regardless, A child under three must still be in the full car seat, but for an older child, the booster seat is not a requirement if you’re giving someone else’s child a ride without pay. If you operate vehicles as part of your work (meaning, you transport passengers for pay) there are additional requirements.

Do Car Seat Laws Always Apply?

Florida's car seat law doesn’t apply to buses that meet a specific definition. It also doesn’t apply to a lot of farm equipment. Motorcycles and bicycles are also an exception. Florida law 316.003 and Florida law 316.613 define motor vehicles for determining when car seat laws apply.

What if We Get in an Accident?

How do Florida car seat laws come into play when it comes to car accident cases? Florida’s car seat law addresses whether failing to use a car seat matters when it comes to car accidents. The law says that failing to use a car seat isn’t admissible as evidence in a civil case to show comparative negligence.

In other words, if you and your children are victims in a car accident, the other side can’t try to use it against you if you didn’t have the children in the appropriate car seats. The jury can’t hear evidence or arguments that failing to follow the seat belt laws amounts to negligence, which can help your case in the event of an accident.

What’s the Penalty for a Child Not Being in a Car Seat in Florida?

If your child isn’t properly using a car seat in Florida, you face 3 points on your license and a fine. You may be able to attend a driver's education course to avoid the points on your license.

Are Car Seat Laws the Same in Each State?

If you're taking a road trip through different states, you'll want to familiarize yourself of the laws for each state you'll pass through. Each state has their own car seat laws.

The Bulger Firm wishes your families safe travels, wherever the road may take you. If you have been injured in an accident, call us for your free consultation today: 904-608-3694.

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