As a parent, you are responsible for keeping your child safe. Protecting your child may look like feeding and clothing them, reading a bedtime story, and teaching them right from wrong — but it doesn’t stop there. Parents must also be aware of the laws for child seat safety in Florida to prevent injury in the event of a car accident.
Florida Highway Safety And Motor Vehicles dictate the regulations for child seat safety. According to their rules for child safety, every child must be buckled within the proper restraint to ride in a passenger vehicle. Parents of newborns and toddlers must also have a car seat adjusted for their weight, size, and age in accordance with Florida child seat safety laws.
If you’re searching for the Florida seat belt laws to best protect your child while on the road, top-rated attorneys at Fasig | Brooks have the answers you need for extra peace of mind. Learn more about the type of seat restraint recommended for your child, and contact us with any further questions about keeping your child safe on the go.
Child Restraint Laws in Florida & What Parents Should Know
Seat belts and car seats are the way to ensure your child is protected from harm or death during a car accident. While many parents are aware of this, selecting the right restraint for your child can be tricky if you are unsure what the safety requirements in Florida are. To select which is best for your child, check out the Florida child safety seat laws in Chapter 316 Section 613 of the 2022 Florida Statutes.
This section of the Florida Statutes governs basic legal requirements for children based on their age. The following information is required by law in Florida, and parents who do not comply may be subject to fines after a car accident or other child-related injuries.
- From birth to age three, infants and toddlers must be strapped in a car seat that is attached through the seat belt to your car. Newborns and toddlers will first use rear-facing car seats until they have met the weight requirement recommended by pediatricians to have the car seat facing the other direction.
- From ages four to five, your child must be restrained in a separate carrier, like a booster seat.
- Children ages six and up may use a regular seat belt or continue using a booster seat depending on their weight, height, and recommendations from their doctor.
Florida Child Seat Safety Laws & the Child Restraint System
The “child-restraint system” in Florida tells parents which safety belt or child restraint they should use to protect their child. However, Florida laws are very vague on the proper height and weight for a child to use each seat. The laws outline how parents can avoid getting a ticket if pulled over; however, the term “child-restraint system” is not defined.
Because the statute does not outline what might be considered the safest for your child, it is important to speak to your child’s doctor before changing their current car seat. Doctors can offer recommendations based on your child’s weight, height, and individual needs.
Car Seats & the Height & Weight Requirements
Florida law does not dictate the height and weight required for each child for each specific car seat. Instead, Florida law outlines car seat requirements based on your child’s age. Using age versus height and weight is not always safe for your child — your child’s car seat should be chosen by what fits their needs best according to their size.
Some car seats outline how much your child must weigh to properly use the seat. However, the best practice is to purchase a car seat recommended by your child’s doctor. The Academy of American Pediatrics recommends car seat safety information parents can follow based on their child’s weight and height.
Rear-Facing Car Seats & Florida Law
Though Florida law does not state when to use a rear-seat car seat, by complying with the height and weight guidelines suggested by the manufacturer, you will also be following Florida child seat safety laws. Rear-facing seats are usually for newborns, infants, and toddlers until the manufacturer provides certain weight and height requirements.
Because Florida law does not state when to switch, selecting the car seat with the highest weight requirements is best, allowing your child to sit rear-facing longer if necessary. Some children may remain rear-facing until four or five years old depending on their weight and height.
Forward-Facing Car Seats & Florida Law
Florida law does not outline the height or weight requirements for children using a forward-facing seat. As with rear-facing car seats, the best way to determine if your child can switch to a new car seat is to check the requirements provided by the car seat manufacturer. By checking the car seat manufacturer’s guidelines, you are still staying in accordance with Florida child seat safety laws to protect your child from harm during a car accident.
Some car seat manufacturers recommend switching your child to a forward-facing car seat at approximately 25 pounds. However, some recommend 45 pounds. Talk to your child’s doctor to learn which is best for your son or daughter.
Booster Seats & Florida Law
Like the other types of car seats, Florida law does not recommend the weight or height at which your child should switch to a booster seat. Some booster seat manufacturers recommend 35 pounds, whereas others recommend switching at around 85 pounds. Because the gap between the two weight sizes is so large, it is best to speak to your child’s doctor.
Before switching to a booster seat, your family doctor will check to see if your child has reached or passed these milestones, including:
- Your child does not fit in a forward-facing car seat harness.
- Your child is somewhere between 40 to 80 pounds.
- Your child is at least 4’9″
- Your child cannot sit in their current car seat without slouched shoulders.
Car Seats & Safety Check Locations in Florida
If you’re unsure how to install a car seat, it is always wise to have a professional check it over to ensure everything has been done correctly. To avoid issues, take your car to a professional before placing your child in the car seat. In Florida, there are a few places where you can take your car seat to have it inspected before use.
Car accident lawyers in Florida recommend Safe Kid Inspection Stations or speaking to a certified FHP certified trooper. In some places, you can also take your car to a fire station to have the car seat looked over before use.
When Can My Child Start Using a Seat Belt in Florida?
Once your child has outgrown their booster seat, it may be time to use a seat belt. However, to determine if it is the right time, parents should check the guidelines recommended first, including the following:
- Your child’s entire back touches the back seat of the car
- Your child’s knees reach the end of the seat.
- The lap portion of the seat belt crosses their lap.
- Your child can remain in this position the entire time seated in the car.
Car Accident Lawyers in Florida Can Help
Your child’s safety is the most important thing. However, it can be difficult when you’re unsure of the Florida child seat safety laws and how the state of Florida helps protect its children. To avoid life-threatening injuries from a car accident, speak to a car accident lawyer in Florida to learn more about Florida seat belt laws for children.
The top-rated attorneys at Fasig | Brooks are committed to helping our clients keep their children out of harm. We do everything in our power to educate families through our free legal advice that parents can take advantage of at any time!
To determine which seat restraint is right for your child, speak to your doctor. However, if you have questions about the Florida child seat safety laws, contact us to learn more.