Florida Seat Belt Law
Florida Seat Belt Law
Seat belts are the most effective safety device your car has for keeping both drivers and passengers safe. In fact, across the United States during 2012, seat belts saved the lives of approximately 12,174 occupants aged 5 and older. Since they are such a vital safety feature, the state of Florida has strict laws in place to ensure their use.
Overview of the Seat Belt Law
The Florida seat belt law requires drivers and front seat passengers to wear their seat belt. In addition to this, any passenger under the age of 18 must be restrained in a seat belt or child car seat. In the past, the seat belt requirement fell under secondary enforcement, where a police officer could only ticket you for not wearing your seat belt if they had a different reason for pulling you over (such as speeding). However, in 2009, it was changed to primary enforcement. This means that an officer can pull over anyone they suspect is violating the seat belt laws.
Understanding the Child Car Seat Rule
Florida has some specific requirements when it comes to transporting children. A snapshot of the related Florida Statute is below. You can read the statute at length here.
Statute 316.613 Florida Child Restrain Requirements
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.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles offers guidance for drivers to follow when transporting children.
Birth to 1 year of age: Children should be in a rear-facing child car seat in the back seat.
1 – 4 year olds weighing 20-40 lbs: Should be fastened into a rear-facing child car seat in the back seat until they outgrow the height/weight limits of the car seat. Typically, after a child is over 1 year of age and weighs over 20 lbs, they can be switched to a forward-facing car seat in the back seat of the car.
4 – 8 year olds (at least 40 lbs and up to 4’9″ tall): Use a forward-facing child seat in the back seat of your car until they reach the height/weight limits that were set by the manufacturer. After they reach the limits, switch them to a booster seat.
8 years old (or 4’9″) to 12 years old: Use a booster seat in the back seat until they are big enough to use the vehicle’s seat belt.
Failure to secure children in a safety device according to the law will result in a moving violation where 3 points will be assessed against the driver’s license.
Drivers who are cited for failing to properly secure a child may have the opportunity to elect to participate in a child restraint safety program. In this case, the points associated with the violation can be waived and any fines associated with the penalties may we waived at the court’s discretion. Keep in mind that the child restraint safety program must be approved by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.