January 6th, 2015 10:52 AM by Brent Ferry
So, you are visiting Orlando for vacation. My child is _ years old/_ inches tall. Does he/she need a car seat? What is the Florida Car Seat Law? Is there a Booster Law? What about taxis? …..
Effective January 1, 2015 the Florida Car Seat Law has changed, or, as has been popularly reported in media, there is a “New Booster Law” which took effect.
The Child Restraint Requirements can be found here in Chapter 316 Section 613 of the Florida Statutes.
They read as follows:
The 2014 Florida Statutes
STATE UNIFORM TRAFFIC CONTROL
316.613 Child restraint requirements.—
(1)(a) Every operator of a motor vehicle as defined in this section, while transporting a child in a motor vehicle operated on the roadways, streets, or highways of this state, shall, if the child is 5 years of age or younger, provide for protection of the child by properly using a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device.
1. For children aged through 3 years, such restraint device must be a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat.
2. For children aged 4 through 5 years, a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a child booster seat may be used. However, the requirement to use a child restraint device under this subparagraph does not apply when a safety belt is used as required in s. 316.614(4)(a) and the child:
a. Is being transported gratuitously by an operator who is not a member of the child’s immediate family;
b. Is being transported in a medical emergency situation involving the child; or
c. Has a medical condition that necessitates an exception as evidenced by appropriate documentation from a health care professional.
(b) The department shall provide notice of the requirement for child restraint devices, which notice shall accompany the delivery of each motor vehicle license tag.
(2) As used in this section, the term “motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle as defined in s. 316.003 that is operated on the roadways, streets, and highways of the state. The term does not include:
(a) A school bus as defined in s. 316.003(45).
(b) A bus used for the transportation of persons for compensation, other than a bus regularly used to transport children to or from school, as defined in s. 316.615(1)(b), or in conjunction with school activities.
(c) A farm tractor or implement of husbandry.
(d) A truck having a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds.
(e) A motorcycle, moped, or bicycle.
(3) The failure to provide and use a child passenger restraint shall not be considered comparative negligence, nor shall such failure be admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action with regard to negligence.
(4) It is the legislative intent that all state, county, and local law enforcement agencies, and safety councils, in recognition of the problems with child death and injury from unrestrained occupancy in motor vehicles, conduct a continuing safety and public awareness campaign as to the magnitude of the problem.
(5) Any person who violates this section commits a moving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318 and shall have 3 points assessed against his or her driver license as set forth in s. 322.27. In lieu of the penalty specified in s. 318.18 and the assessment of points, a person who violates this section may elect, with the court’s approval, to participate in a child restraint safety program approved by the chief judge of the circuit in which the violation occurs, and, upon completing such program, the penalty specified in chapter 318 and associated costs may be waived at the court’s discretion and the assessment of points shall be waived. The child restraint safety program must use a course approved by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and the fee for the course must bear a reasonable relationship to the cost of providing the course.
(6) The child restraint requirements imposed by this section do not apply to a chauffeur-driven taxi, limousine, sedan, van, bus, motor coach, or other passenger vehicle if the operator and the motor vehicle are hired and used for the transportation of persons for compensation. It is the obligation and responsibility of the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for a child’s welfare as defined in s. 39.01 to comply with the requirements of this section.
History.—s. 1, ch. 82-58; s. 1, ch. 86-49; s. 2, ch. 87-200; s. 2, ch. 91-136; s. 28, ch. 94-306; s. 903, ch. 95-148; s. 35, ch. 96-350; s. 56, ch. 99-8; s. 240, ch. 99-248; s. 1, ch. 99-316; s. 18, ch. 2000-313; s. 40, ch. 2005-164; s. 9, ch. 2008-176; s. 14, ch. 2011-66; s. 13, ch. 2012-181; s. 53, ch. 2014-224; s. 1, ch. 2014-226.
What does this mean and how is this different?
In summary, children 0-3 years old should be in a car seat. Children aged 4 and 5 should be in a car seat or a booster seat. Previously, the law only necessitated car seats for children through age 3. 4 and 5 year olds could, legally, be restrained with a seat belt only. You can see the additions and deletions to FS 316.613 by reading the Enrolled version on the Bill here. Originally submitted versions with stronger requirements did not pass.
In this case, there is a difference between the minimum you have to do and the minimum you should do. Most parents would likely agree that both the old version of the law, and the new, are weak. The lawful requirement in Florida falls short of widely accepted standards for child passenger safety. Parents are advised to follow “safety first” and common sense by employing the method best suited based on the child’s age/height/weight. Click here for a Child Safety Seat Brochure from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. These recommendations meet and exceed the Florida law and serve as a better guideline for safety.
I additionally recommend verifying any laws in question by visiting the official site of the Florida Legislature.