Florida Car and Booster Seat Laws
Child car seats and booster seats reduce the risk of serious child injury or death in a car accident by as much as 80%. This risk reduction could have a significant impact if all parents followed the car seat and booster seat laws.
In 2020, almost 150,000 children were injured in car accidents, and an estimated 380 were killed.
Types of Child Restraints
Florida’s car and booster seat law refers to three types of child restraints:
Florida law does not define “separate carrier.” But based on the structure of the statute and the interpretation by the Florida Department of Transportation, a separate carrier includes any child seat that you can remove from the vehicle.
A separate carrier includes a seat, backrest, headrest, and harness. It attaches to the car through anchors or a passageway where the car’s seat belt can run.
Thus, the separate carrier sits on top of the car’s seats but does not use the car’s seat belt to restrain the child. Instead, the separate carrier only uses the car’s seat belt to hold the separate carrier to the vehicle.
Integrated Child Seat
An integrated child seat is built into the vehicle. Currently, no manufacturers offer an integrated child seat in vehicles sold in the U.S. Volvo offers an integrated child booster seat, but this does not qualify as an integrated child seat under Florida law.
Child Booster Seat
Child booster seats lift the child high enough that the shoulder belt crosses the child’s shoulder and chest rather than their neck. This reduces the risks of seat belt injuries and ejections.
Child booster seats only include a seat. They lack a harness because they are used with the vehicle’s seat belt. They may include a backrest and headrest, but these are optional.
Florida’s Car and Booster Seat Requirements
All passengers age five and under must ride in a child restraint device. The law breaks down this requirement into two age groups.
For Children Ages 0-3
The child must ride in a separate carrier or integrated car seat. Although the law does not specify the type of separate carrier, the Florida Department of Transportation defers to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations.
According to the AAP, children should ride in rear-facing car seats until they are at least two years old. After they turn two, children can graduate to forward-facing car seats, depending on their height and weight.
Bear in mind that whether they are rear- or forward-facing, car seats must include a five-point harness. If the seat uses the car’s seat belt to restrain the child, they are considered booster seats and are not allowed for children 0-3 years old except in an emergency.
For Children Ages 4-5
The child can ride in a separate carrier, integrated car seat, or child booster seat. According to the AAP, the child should ride in a forward-facing car seat until they exceed the child seat’s weight limits. They should then ride in a child booster seat until they reach 4 feet, 9 inches in height.
Seat Belt Laws for Children Ages 6-17
Once a child reaches their 6th birthday, they do not need to use a car seat or booster seat. But at that point, Florida’s seat belt laws apply to the child.
Children and adults must wear seat belt when riding in the front seat of a vehicle. Florida recommends that children ride in the back seat until age 12, but it’s not required.
When riding in the rear seat, children must wear a seat belt until they turn 18. After age 18, Florida allows rear-seat passengers to ride without a seat belt.
Seek Assistance After an Accident
This blog post has hopefully provided you with useful insight regarding Florida’s car and booster seat laws. If you happen to experience a car accident, especially with a child in the vehicle, please reach out for assistance – medical, legal, or otherwise. You don’t have to endure the incident alone.
Contact the Jacksonville Car Accident Law Firm of Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers Today For Help
Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Jacksonville
9471 Baymeadows Rd #105,
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Downtown Jacksonville
121 W. Forsyth St. #170,
Jacksonville, FL 32202