Anyone with a young child needs to know about car seat rules. Whether you live in Florida or just visiting the state, you need to make sure that you comply with Florida’s laws. Florida’s safety seat laws apply to all children on the roads in Florida, even if they’re not residents of the area.
In Florida, car seat laws apply to children based on their age. Our lawyers explain the essential rules and car seat or booster recommendations in the United States to protect your child and keep everyone safer on the road.
What Are Florida’s Car Seat Laws?
Each state’s laws can vary regarding weight or height limits. It’s important to know the rules for children secured in a child seat, be aware of manufacturer instructions, and how to assess seat belt fit to determine where a child can safely sit. In Florida, the rules are:
- Ages 0-5 – Children must use a full car seat based on age.
- Ages 0-3 – A child must either use a full or booster car seat or a car seat integrated with the car.
- Ages 4-5 – Children are required to use a booster seat, a full car seat, or a car seat that’s integrated with the vehicle.
- Ages 6-17 – Children must wear a seatbelt.
Car seat laws in Florida1 take into account the age of the child. Even if the child is very tall or short, the rule that applies depends on their age. There are no exceptions to the laws when children are above or below average for their height.
All car seats need to be crash-tested and federally approved and must follow safety standards set by car manufacturers. Some rear-facing car seats can safely transport children weighing 40 pounds or more.
Are There Car Seat Exceptions?
There are only exceptions for booster seats in the case of medical emergencies and children with medical conditions. If a child doesn’t use a safety 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 when giving someone else’s child a ride without pay.
What Are the National Car Seat Recommendations?
Even though Florida law requires a full safety seat for children under the age of 3 and a booster seat until age 6, national recommendations are much more complex. The National Highway Traffic Association (NHTSA)2 has its own set of recommendations for the road. For example, NHTSA recommends:
- Ages 0-4 – Full car seats
- Ages 8-12 – Use booster seats
NHTSA also recommends that children remain in their booster seats until they properly fit in a seat belt.
Are Drivers Responsible for the Children in Their Vehicle?
Parents are responsible for the children they transport. If you drive your own child, there’s no exception to car safety laws. If you’re driving someone else’s child as a favor, the booster seat is optional.
A child under three must still be in the full car seat. The booster seat is not required for an older child if you’re giving someone else’s child a ride without pay. As the driver, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you’re following the law regarding the safety of the children you’re driving and following all Florida laws.
When Do Car Seat Laws Not Apply?
Florida’s car seat law3 defines circumstances in which it does and does not apply. This includes:
- Buses that meet a specific definition
- Most farm equipment
How Do Florida Car Seat Laws Apply to Accidents?
How do Florida safety seat laws work for car accident cases? Florida’s law addresses whether failing to use a car seat matters when it comes to car accidents. The law says that failing to use a child restraint system isn’t admissible evidence in a civil case to show comparative negligence.
In other words, if you and your children are victims of a car accident, the other side can’t try to use it against you if you didn’t have the children in the appropriate safety seats. The jury can’t hear evidence or arguments that failing to follow the seat belt laws amounts to negligence.
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 safety course to avoid the points on your license. The program you attend is up to the judge’s approval in the state your violation occurs.
Are Car Seat Laws the Same in Each State?
Each state has its own car seat laws. State laws4, including Florida rear-facing car seat laws by state, might change when you cross from one to another. You need to make sure you know the law in each state when traveling with a child. Some rules that change from state to state may include:
- Ride in a rear-facing car seat age
- Use of a point harness according to the year of age
- Ages for riding in a rear seat
- Belt use according to height and what a child weighs
Work With Our Car Accident Attorneys in Tampa, FL
The lawyers at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys know Florida traffic laws inside and out. Jack and his legal team have years of experience helping people understand the law and pursue their rights.
If you or your child is hurt in a car accident involving a car seat, you may have a right to claim compensation. Florida laws, including Florida’s car seat laws, can be complex. Our team of Florida car accident attorneys will help you assert your rights and get the compensation that you deserve.
Don’t assume that you don’t have a claim. Instead, we invite you to contact our Tampa attorneys for a friendly, confidential discussion of your case. Call us today to connect immediately with one of our professional team members.
2National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Car Seats and Booster Seats. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
4Safe Ride 4 Kids. What Does Your State Law Say About Car Seats? Safe Ride 4 Kids. Retrieved 12 May 2022.