Is It Legal for My Children to Travel in the Front Passenger Seat in Florida?

Posted on

This is what you need to know when traveling in Florida with a child:

  • For children from birth to 1-year-old and at least 20 lbs., you should use a rear-facing child car seat until the child outgrows the weight and height limit of the child car seat.
  • For children from 1-year-old and 20 lbs. to 4 years old and 40 lbs., you should use a forward-facing car seat.
  • Children 4 years old and 40 lbs. to 8 years old or 4'9" tall should have a forward-facing booster seat.
  • Children 8 years old to 12 years old or 4'9" tall should have a booster seat until they're big enough to use the car's seat belt.

While rear-facing is much safer for children since it minimizes the risk of neck and head injuries, child restraint requirements under Florida Statutes do not mention how long children are allowed to be rear-facing. If a child is five years of age or younger, parents should provide a:

  • crash-tested
  • federally approved child restraint device

Parents should follow the requirements established by the manufacturers of their car seats, check for car seats and booster seats recalls, and stay up-to-date with the latest safety belts and child restraints laws and safety tips.

Furthermore, under Florida law, everyone is required to use a seat belt or child restraint device when riding in a vehicle, especially children over 12 years old or above 135 cm in height when traveling in front. Florida law regarding safety belts and child restraints also provides that:

  • Motor vehicle drivers, front seat passengers, and all children who are under 18 riding in a vehicle must use safety belts or child restraint devices.
  • An officer can pull over a vehicle simply for observing a safety belt or restraint violation and even issue a fine.
  • Children should ride in the back seats until at least age 12 since deployed front seat airbags can be dangerous.

According to the suggested child car seat guidelines, your child can sit in the front seat of your car at 13 years old, but it's not recommended before this age. One of the reasons is that, when deployed, airbags can be hazardous for those under a certain height and weight.

  • From birth to 13-year-old it's safer for children to travel in the car's back seat.
  • Children who are 13 years old can travel in the front seats only if they are wearing seat belts that are adjusted according to their age and weight.

Also, pay great attention when installing the child seat in the car. In an impact of 9 to 12 mph, a child can be severely injured. Even when wearing a safety belt, a child might suffer injuries that can cause death.

Defective Child Car Seats Can Cause Serious Injuries to Children

In the unfortunate event of being involved in an accident, parents should know that even a minor accident can affect the child's car seat, and they are advised to replace it.

What can happen to a child car seat after a minor car accident:

  • The structural integrity and overall safety of the car seat may be compromised
  • Parts may have been dislodged or loosened

Even if the damage is not visible to the naked eye, it is generally recommended that you replace the safety seat after a car crash.

A seat involved in a car accident may not have distinguishable signs of damage, but it surely will not be as effective in a future car crash. Also, a damaged part of the car seat may endanger your child's life. The car seats should be replaced even if the child was not sitting in them during the accident. The impact during a car crash could cause severe damage to the seat, and if you continue to use it, your kid will likely get hurt at a second impact.

If your child was seriously injured in a car accident and the injuries were caused by manufacturing mistakes or lack of seat installation guidelines, an experienced lawyer can help you build and win a product liability case. Call us today for a free case evaluation.

In Florida, safety belt fines are $30 plus other legal assessments, while the fine for child restraint violations consists of $60 and losing 3 points from the driver's license.

The penalties applied for safety belt violations tend to be lower than those for child restraints. The fines vary in each state and typically range from $25 to $500; child seat violations can also be waived if the driver purchases and installs an approved child restraint system.

Yes. All front-seat passengers must buckle up at any age, especially those under 18, regardless of where they are located inside the vehicle.

Drivers will be charged with a safety belt violation if any of their passengers under 18 are not restrained with a seat belt or child restraint system.

Child restraint devices that meet current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 and are used according to the instructions of the vehicle owner's manual and child restraint manufacturer are the safest.

The Florida Department of Transportation supports the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) regarding child safety restraints.

Rear-facing seats should have the hardness straps at shoulder level or below, whereas front-facing seats should have the straps positioned at or above the shoulders. The chest clip should be placed in line with the child's armpits, over the breastbone.

Take extra time when placing your child in their car seat, and double-check that it's installed properly and your child is securely restrained. Read your manufacturer's recommendations thoroughly to ensure you are using the safety seat correctly.

After reading the car manual and safety seat instructions and installing the safety seat according to the recommended standards, you should further have a certified technician inspect it.

Inspection Stations can be found through the Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator, where Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will inspect the child safety seat and instruct you on installing and using it properly.

Florida Law is very strict in child passenger safety regulations, and certain age and weight limits are imposed for children in a moving vehicle. Children over 13 years old who have outgrown a safety seat can sit in the front.

Front seats cannot be used by children under 13 years old, and rear seats are recommended for children under four years old and weighing less than 20 pounds.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.