Whether residing in Florida or traveling within the state, drivers should be aware of Florida’s car seat laws. Florida does not make exceptions to the car seat law for non-residents; therefore, everyone operating a vehicle is required to understand and abide by the state’s car seat laws. A part of the state’s traffic law, Florida State Statute 316.613 outlines child restraint requirements.
According to the law, children are required to be in a federally approved child restraint device shown to withstand impact from crash testing through the age of 5. Children ages 6 and older do not need to use a car seat but are required to wear a seat belt. The specific breakdown of Florida’s law is as follows:
The law provides some exceptions to the child car seat rule. The law allows the use of a safety belt as opposed to a car seat in certain situations:
In the state of Florida, a motor vehicle is defined as an automobile operated on the state’s streets, roadways or highways. The traffic law regarding child restraints specifically excludes the following vehicle types:
Florida law specifies that child restraint requirements do not apply to chauffeured vehicles, such as taxis, limousines or other passenger vehicles hired for transportation. This would include private car services, such as Uber and Lyft. The law holds parents, guardians or other entities legally responsible for the welfare of the child responsible for adhering to the law in these instances.
Failure to follow Florida’s child car seat laws will result in a moving violation and 3 points assessed against the at-fault party’s driver’s license. In some cases, the court may decide to waive the violation and points if the offender completes a child restraint safety program approved by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Florida state law does not stipulate height and weight requirements for child restraints; it only uses age as the determining factor for child car seat use. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does provide child restraint recommendations that are periodically updated. The current recommendations are:
The AAP recommends child restraints in the rear seat of a vehicle for all children under the age of 13. Though following these recommendations is not a requirement per Florida state law, abiding by these guidelines may reduce risk of death or serious injury by 70%.
It is important to note that Florida state law specifies that car seats must be approved by the federal government and capable of withstanding a crash as shown by pre-market testing. Before choosing a new car seat, parents should check to ensure it meets this requirement. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a variety of resources as a guide to choosing the best car seat. A few things to consider before obtaining a car seat include:
The NHTSA recommends checking for recalls on both vehicles and child car seats periodically as well as registering a new car seat immediately following purchase. If obtaining a used car seat, NHTSA advises parents to make sure the seat has not been in a car accident or damaged. Used seats should also be inspected to account for all parts, components and the owner’s instruction manual.
Each car seat differs by manufacturer and type, which is why the NHTSA provides detailed written instructions for each type of car seat. The most common car seat installation errors include:
For over 40 years, Rue & Ziffra personal injury attorneys have worked tirelessly with communities around Volusia and Flagler counties to educate about automobile safety. We have seen our fair share of car accident cases that have effected entire families. Your children are the future, and we must do our very best to protect them. Remember, always read a car seat’s instruction manual and follow all installation and maintenance instructions. For parents and guardians who are unsure if the car seat is properly installed and used, there are a few different places to have the installation checked. The Florida Highway Patrol offers car seat installation and safety checks in many of Florida’s larger counties while local hospitals and community organizations also offer this service for free.