Florida’s Car Seat Laws – What You Need to Know

Anyone with a young child needs to know about car seat rules. Whether you live in Florida or you’re just visiting, you need to make sure that you comply with Florida’s car seat laws. What laws apply to you? Here are the basics you need to know:

Florida has car seat laws for children. The rules apply to all children who are on the roads in Florida even if they’re not residents of Florida. In Florida, car seat laws apply to children based on their age.

What Are Florida’s Car Seat Laws?

Florida’s car seat laws require children to use car seats through age 5. Between the ages of 0-3, children must either use a full, separate car seat or a car seat that’s integrated with the car. Between the ages of 4-5, the child must use a booster seat, a full car seat or a car seat that’s integrated with the vehicle. Between the ages of 6-17, children must wear a seatbelt.

Car seat laws in Florida depend on the age of the child. Even if the child is very tall or short, the rule that applies to them is based on their age. There are no exceptions to car seat laws when children are above or below average for their height.

Florida Has Written Car Seat Laws

Florida’s car seat laws are just that – laws. They’re not recommendations or guidelines. Florida’s car seat laws come from Florida law 316.613, which is part of Florida’s traffic laws.

Florida law 316.613 says 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.

Recommendations for Car Seats in Florida

Even though Florida law requires a full car seat only to age 3 and a booster seat until age 6, national recommendations for car seat use are much more complex. The National Highway Traffic Association (NHTSA) 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.

Drivers Are Responsible for the Children in Their Vehicle

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. 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. As the driver, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you’re following the law when it comes to the safety of the children you’re driving and Florida car seat laws.

When Do Car Seat Laws Not Apply?

Florida’s car seat law defines circumstances in which it does and does not apply. The 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.

Florida Car Seat Laws and Accidents

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. That’s good news for car accident victims.

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 car seat safety course to avoid the points on your license. The program you attend is up to the approval of the judge in the location where your violation occurs.

Are Car Seat Laws the Same in Each State?

Each state has their own car seat laws. Car seat laws might change when you cross from one state into another. You need to make sure you know the law in each state in which you plan to travel with a child.

Work With Our Car Accident Attorneys in Tampa

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.

About the Author

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

For more than 36 years, personal injury lawyer Jack G. Bernstein has protected the rights of individuals who have been injured in a variety of circumstances. Mr. Bernstein is a member of the Florida State Bar Association, the Hillsborough Bar Association and the Clearwater Bar Association.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.