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Florida's Child Car Seat Age Law (Sucks)

Updated on October 26, 2010

Florida does not have a booster seat requirement, as of June 2010. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that, along with Arizona and South Dakota, Florida is one of only three states without a booster seat law. Before you think you have one less thing to worry about, think again. The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), informed by child passenger safety consensus, believes you should use a booster seat for certain children despite what the law says. The only thing that saves Florida's overall child restraint law is relatively stiff punishment. Otherwise, it is weak law covering too few children.

Florida's Car Seat Law: For the Dogs

Florida only requires car seat for kids through age 3.
Florida only requires car seat for kids through age 3.

Florida's Child Restraint Law

Florida's child restraint law covers children up to age 5, but, comparatively speaking, the law is amazingly lax, as of June 2010. In fact, you could argue logically that a parent who does not go above and beyond should be charged with violating child endangerment laws. Florida's car seat law only requires you secure your child in a child restraint device through age 3. Florida gives you the option of using a child restraint device or an adult seat belt for children who are 4 or 5 years of age. The state's separate seat belt law covers all other individuals, 6 years of age and older. If you violate the child restraint law, Florida levies a $60 fine. They also apply three points to your driver's license, which is a strong form of punishment, relative to other state's child restraint laws.

Florida Highway Patrol Recommendations

Despite the lack of a booster seat requirement, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) provides child passenger safety guidance, informed by the group Buckle Up America, that goes above and beyond Florida law. They suggest that 4-to-8-year old children ride in booster seats. Generally, children transition to a booster seat when they reach a weight of about 40 lbs. Prior to booster seat use FHP recommends you secure toddlers between the ages of 1 and 4 in a forward-facing child seat. Infants should travel rear-facing in an infant car seat until they reach 1 year of age and 20 lbs. Weight parameters vary from car seat to car seat so check your manufacturer's instructions.

Moving to an Adult Seat

The main reason why child passenger safety experts stress booster seat use is that they lift young children up so that adult seat belts fit properly. Generally, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), your child is not seat belt ready until he reaches 4 feet 9 inches tall. Florida's law stops way short of AAP recommendations. Even the toughest laws, which require a booster seat through age 8, are lacking. AAP explains that children often do not reach the 4 feet 9 inch marker until after their 8th birthday. Once your child is tall enough, make sure that the shoulder belt fits across the middle of her chest and the lap belt sits along her upper thighs before saying goodbye to their booster seat.


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      Guerda L. 2 years ago

      I feel like we should not have to call anyone to change the Laws as far as the safety of our children is concerned. As responsible parents, we should use common sense when it comes to our children. If our gut feelings tell us that we need to use a car seat or a booster for our children regardless of what the law states, then we have all of our rights to do so. If we love our children like we say we do then we will do everything in our power to keep them safe. That is the way I see and understand it.

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      Gma 5 years ago

      I am a grandma to five and live in Ontario Canada. I agree - children need to be protected and we need to be responsible for their safety. But I can't help but wonder why??? our government will allow a whole bus load of children to board onto the bus, when they are so little their legs can't reach the first step of the bus entrance. Then they have to climb up onto these giant seats and guess what NO SEAT did send off a letter or two to the bus companies and the government. And I got some response that made NO sense to me. See the government is okay insisting we HAVE to restrain our kiddies and toss out any outdated car seats (can't recycle that is a So you have to toss these very expensive car seats into the trash, buy NEW ones for different age groups and make sure you take a class on how to ensure that you have buckled them up correctly - if you don't the police will charge you - should you get stopped. Yet every are loaded onto buses and totally unprotected. But according to the government - the buses are made out of marshmallows and rainbows sprinkles and NOTHING ever bad can happen.

    • hannahbordex profile image

      hannahbordex 6 years ago from Fresno, California

      The photo is funny

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      Rene martinez 7 years ago

      I live in homestead florida, I have an 8 year old boy and another one on the way, I love my children with every fiber of my being. I don't understand how our laws on child restraints are so lenient. I'm trying to get in touch with my state rep. to try to change the law to child neglect and endangerment. We as conscious adults and parents have a responsibility to protect the innocent children, that cannot protect themselves.

    • nadp profile image

      nadp 7 years ago from WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA

      I live in Florida and I agree with you. Good hub - and I LOVE the picture!