What are Florida’s child safety seat laws?

Parents and caregivers of children in Florida should understand the state's laws on child restraint seats and booster seats.

Florida parents are by nature concerned about their children's welfare. It is therefore, understandable that they need to remain abreast of all laws concerning the well-being of their children. This includes the laws pertaining to child safety seats in cars and other motor vehicles.

Seats for infants

According to the Broward Sheriff's Office, infants in Florida should ride in rear-facing car seats in the back seat of vehicles. This positioning must be maintained until babies are at least one-year old and have grown to at least 20 pounds. The seats should keep infants at a 45-degree position.

While this is the law, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping infants in these seats until they hit the maximum weight and height for their seats. For many babies, this would be around the age of two. The AAP reports that this positioning gives the best support for infants' developing spines, necks and heads should an accident take place.

The APP also indicates that instead of considering the move from one safety seat to the next as a milestone in a baby's development, parents should consider the actual safety provided to their children. For maximum safety, using the rear-facing seat longer is best.

Seats for toddlers and beyond

The Florida Statutes indicate that children under three years of age should always be in a restraint seat. Once a baby graduates from the rear-facing seat, they can ride in a front-facing restraint seat. Four- and five-year-old children are legally allowed to ride in a booster seat.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that effective January 1, 2015, Florida made the use of booster seats for children younger than six years old a legal requirement. A total of 48 other states already had such legislation in place.

This is yet another area in which the recommendations of the AAP are greater than the law in Florida. The APP advises parents to keep children in booster seats until they are at least four feet and nine inches tall and between the ages of eight and 12 years of age.

For children in booster seats the use of such a seat is not required if a child is being transported for a medical emergency or has some medical condition that makes the use of a booster seat not possible. There are other situations in which children do not need to be in booster seats, such as when riding in a school bus. Violations of the Florida laws can result in three points being added to a driving record.

Important tips for parents

Anyone involved in a vehicle accident with their children should contact an attorney. The right legal advice can be very helpful in pursuing compensation in these situations.