Car seat laws began going into effect throughout the U.S. in the 1970s, but every state has adopted its own laws regarding the issue. In Florida, booster seat laws apply to young children and help them remain safe while in vehicles. Child safety laws have been observed from suggested booster seat age requirements to strict penalties for breaking certain regulations. Protecting the health of children is essential, especially during road trips and commutes, so drivers and parents must be aware of car seat safety information and ensure their vehicles and child restraint devices meet all safety criteria.

The following sections explain everything drivers and parents need to know about the car seat rules in FL to avoid legal penalties and to secure the safety of their children passengers. Additionally, they can learn which child restraint might be right for their children and how to use it properly.

What are the car seat laws in Florida?

Car seat guidelines dictate which children are able to sit without child restraints in moving vehicles based on their age, height and weight. However, FL does not detail car or booster seat weight or height requirements. In FL, anyone who operates a motor vehicle with a child passenger younger than six years old must secure him/her in a federally approved child restraint. Their weight has no bearing on this requirement.

Child car seat safety specifications are based on the child’s age. For example, children who are three years old or younger must be contained in a carrier secured in the vehicle or in a child restraint device affixed to the vehicle’s seat. Children between the ages of four and five can use a carrier, integrated child restraint or a booster seat to satisfy state laws. While there are no car seat regulations explaining where children are permitted to sit in a vehicle currently in effect, any child requiring a child restraint device must be secured and properly harnessed, regardless of where they are sitting. Also, the FL Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) recommends that children remain in the back seats of vehicles until they are 12 years old to avoid injuries due to active airbags.

However, some exceptions apply to these car seat laws. For instance, children being transported by a non-family member without sufficient notice to prepare a child restraint device do not need to be secured by any child restraint but must be buckled with a seat belt. Additionally, children being transported to emergency services and children with proven medical conditions that prevent them from being restrained in a vehicle are exempt from child restraint laws. Drivers and parents are reminded that manufacturer booster seat weight requirements for different child restraints should be followed and may make adhering to state laws more challenging.

Penalties for Violating Car Seat Regulations in Florida

If drivers break any FL car seat law, they will receive fines and driver’s license points added to their driving record. For any car or booster seat law violation, drivers are fined $60 and get three traffic violation points which may result in the seizure of their license or additional fines depending on the number of points they have already accumulated.

Types of Car Seats

Drivers and parents want the best car seats available for their children passengers, but finding the appropriate child restraint can be difficult. The following list explains the types of child restraints children can use in FL and important details about them:

  • To facilitate transporting children in and out of vehicles, drivers and parents may use a portable carrier if they fully secure it to a seat.
  • Rear facing car seat. This is a type of infant car seat that is much safer than a front-facing seat. The cushions cradle the neck, head and back of babies, reducing the strain the movement of vehicles place on them. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most young children outgrow these seats at eight or nine months old.
  • Forward facing car seat. This toddler car seat can accommodate a growing child until they are ready for a booster seat or seat belt. The harness secures the toddlers when the car jostles and in case of an accident.
  • Booster car seat. This seat is only meant to provide additional height for children who have outgrown their older seats and still require some assistance reaching the seat belt and having it fit properly. In FL, children older than five years old do not have to be in a booster, but they may prefer to be in one.

If a child restraint device was built into a vehicle, then children may use that rather than buying a new device. Furthermore, all drivers and parents with children passengers should consider reviewing customer reviews and performance ratings online before purchasing a car seat. Additionally, if they want to find the safest car seats available, they should compare different types. Some of the most popular and highest-rated seats in FL are the Graco Extend2Fit convertible car seat and the Britax Frontier G1.1 ClickTight seat.

Car Seat Installation Information

After choosing the right child restraint based on car seat laws and children’s sizes and age, drivers transporting children passengers need to learn how to assemble and adjust the seat. While the car seat is designed to protect children in vehicles, it cannot do so if installed incorrectly. Therefore, drivers and parents are encouraged to reference these simple tips to help install a child restraint:

  • Get a free car seat installation and safety check courtesy of the FL Highway Patrol (FHP).
  • Clear out the vehicle before starting to make an open workspace.
  • Read the instructions manual in full before picking up any tools.
Last updated on Friday, November 9 2018.

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