Florida Car Seat Laws

Parents commute around the city on a daily basis. Being a parent means that it is highly likely that a young child will be traveling alongside the parent in the vehicle. The state of Florida has strict rules on how young children should travel in a vehicle, here is what every Floridian parent should know.

What does the Law Say about Car Seats?

Chapter 316.613 of the State Uniform Traffic Control law outlines the laws for child restraint requirements while traveling in a vehicle. The statute states in relevant part:

(1)(a) Every operator of a motor vehicle as defined in this section, while transporting a child in a motor vehicle operated on the roadways, streets, or highways of this state, shall, if the child is 5 years of age or younger, provide for protection of the child by properly using a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device.”

florida car seat lawsIn lay terms, this means that every parent operating a vehicle in which a child will be travelling should restrain the child using a car seat. The law continues and states, “For children aged zero (0) through three (3) years, such restraint device must be a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat.” In other words, children aged 0 through 3 years should be in a car seat that is secured to the car.

The next section makes a distinction for children above 3 years old, “For children aged four (4) through five (5) years, a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a child booster seat may be used.” Although this is a more lenient requirement, the child must still be secured in a device and is not to be secured to the seat only by a seatbelt.

The law makes an exception for children aged 4 through 5 years old stating,

“However, the requirement to use a child restraint device under this subparagraph does not apply when a safety belt is used as required in section 316.614(4)(a) and the child:

  1. Is being transported gratuitously by an operator who is not a member of the child’s immediate family;
  2. Is being transported in a medical emergency situation involving the child; or
  3. Has a medical condition that necessitates an exception as evidenced by appropriate documentation from a healthcare professional.”

Basically, the child must be restrained in a device unless the child is being transported by one who is not of the child’s immediate family or there is an emergency situation regarding the child.

What are the Consequences of not Using a Car Seat?

The most obvious repercussion to not using a car seat is putting the safety of the child in jeopardy. Car seat laws are in place for the best interest of the child and not simply as an added annoyance to parents. Neglecting to follow these laws carry legal repercussions, most commonly infractions on the parent’s driving record.  Additionally, the national standard for car seats may differ from that of the parents’ home state. In order to ensure that parents abide the law and avoid legal repercussions, it is best to consult with an attorney knowledgeable in the field.