How To Ensure Your Kids’ Safety in a Car: Florida Car Seat Laws!

As a full-time parent, your schedule must be extremely busy! A constant need for diapers, milk, toys, snacks makes you spend most of your day in the car with your toddler, running errands! The next thing you know, you got a ticket for not restraining your child correctly.

How did it happen? You don't even know because you have no time to go through the official government documentation to get familiar with the details. 

This is where I jump in to help!

If you live or stay in Florida, this is your internet corner with comprehensive but crystal clear information about the Florida Car Seat Laws

It is extracted from the official legislative documentation, but naturally, it translates to the ordinary people's language, if you know what I mean.

So, take a coffee break and learn how to keep your child super-safe while driving!

Florida Car Seat Law

florida car seat laws front facing

According to official Florida statutes, every driver of a motor vehicle with a child five years old or younger in his car must protect the child by properly using the crash-tested, state-approved child restraint system. A child restraint system refers to different models of car seats and boosters.

Now, this statute does not apply to buses, school buses, farm tractors, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, or bicycles.

Florida Infants Car Seat Law

For children up to three years of age, the state of Florida requires the use of a separate carrier or manufacturer's integrated safety child seat.

Now, since I've noticed a load of debates on this statute, I would go on and clarify what it actually means. Separate carrier refers to the safety car seats you buy additionally and install in your car

In contrast, the integrated safety child seats are the car seats already installed into the vehicle's design by manufacturers, but these are very rare. Whatever you decide to use, always check if it is state-approved and appropriate for your child's age and weight. 

Florida Toddlers Car Seat Law

When it comes to four-year-olds and five-year-olds, Florida's state requires the use of either a separate carrier, integrated car seat, or a booster seat.

Yet, there are a few leeways to this statute. Namely, if you're giving someone else's child a ride, you don't need to provide a booster seat. Moreover, If your child has a medical condition and should not be using a car seat, you can use a seat belt instead. But, you'll need to provide the medical documentation.

Florida Safety Belt Law

In the state of Florida, safety belt usage is mandatory in a car for everyone younger than eighteen.

The Penalties

florida car seat laws forward facing

For not following the car seat laws in Florida, you face three points against your license and a $60 fee. However, the court may decide to let you pass if you oblige to attend a child restraint safety program instead.

The Height and Weight Limits

Most parents find it strange that there are no specifications of the child's weight and height recommendations for different car seats' usage in Florida.

However, the first statute does require a car seat to be crash-tested and federally approved. This, in fact, refers to the official recommendations about the weight and height limits for each car seat model, as provided by the manufacturer or following the American Academy of Pediatrics.

We will now go over these recommendations.

Rear-Facing Car Seats

Since the state of Florida does not give any direct guidelines about the usage of rear-facing car seats, you should refer to the recommendations of the AAP or NHTSA.

Namely, you should use a rear-facing car seat for your infant, from day one to as long as possible. This is the safest restraint system, so the NHTSA recommends to use it until your child outgrows it and exceeds the weight and height limits provided by the manufacturer.

This usually happens around 25 pounds, but check in the manufacturer's instructions rear-facing car seats are mandatory from 0-12 months but should be used up to approximately three years.

Forward Facing Car Seat

florida car seat laws 2020

As with rear-facing car seats, Florida car seat laws do not say anything about forward-facing car seats. 

However, the official recommendations are that when your child exceeds the weight and height limits of the rear-facing car seat, you can consider a forward-facing seat. It is legal for your child to drive in a forward-facing car seat once it turns one, but it is not recommendable.

The usual age when your child should be using a forward-facing car seat is from the age of four to seven, and the weight should be around 40-45 pounds.

Booster Seats

Naturally, when your child no longer fits the forward-facing car seats, you can switch to booster seats, but not before the age of four. The recommendations are to use the booster seat up to twelve, and then your child can switch to a seat belt.

As you can notice, the state of Florida allows seat belts from the age of six, but this is not recommended by the APP or National Highway Safety Administration

You do have an option to keep using a booster seat once your child turns six, even though you are not obligated to.

What Recommendations to Follow?

florida car seat age laws

The safest way to restrain your child in a car is to follow the instructions of the manufacturer.

There, you can find the exact weight and height limits of the car seat, and you should wait until your child exceeds them to switch to the next type of restraint system. 

Furthermore, this way, you can't be charged for not complying with the customary laws in Florida, since they require you to use federal-approved car seats.

Are Florida Car Seat Laws Safe?

It is debatable whether this kind of children's safety regulation is enough for the prevention of injuries and possibly fatal outcomes in car crashes. Other states have way more strict and detailed car seat laws than Florida.

The logic behind this is that Florida holds parents responsible for their children's safety and expects them to follow the recommendations despite the freedom they are given. 

Installment

If you're not 100% positive on properly installing different types of the child restraint system, refer to NHTSA's instructions, followed by a video demonstration for help. Or check out this all-inclusive video instruction

Additional Help

To have your child seat inspected by a Nationally Certified CPS Technician in Florida, refer to this list of fitting stations in Florida, by County.

You can also have a virtual check at the Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, or find a CPS technician via this link.

Final Thoughts

That was our overview of the Florida car seat laws, the official regulations, and the safest recommendations. We hope everything is crystal clear now, so you won't have problems while in Florida with your little one.

Do not ever forget that you are held responsible for your child's safety, and therefore always make sure you restrain them in the safest way possible, no matter how much of a hassle it can be.

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here