Please note that this information was pulled prior to the 2023 Florida Senate Session and information is likely to change if laws are passed.

What the Law Says

The official Florida child car seat laws are governed by section 316.613 Fla. Stat. stating “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.”

Under this statute it explains that children through 3 years of age must be in a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat. Children 4 through 5 years of age must be in a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a child booster seat. Once the child is 6 years of age, they are to use a seat belt.

What the Law Doesn’t Say

Unfortunately, the child car seat laws in Florida don’t explain when a child should be moved from rear-facing to forward facing car seats. They also do not explain any weight or height restrictions for which type of car seat to use. The statute only references age limits. This is not a great way to reference which car seat your child should be in as all children grow at different rates.  Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics and all federally approved car seats have their guidelines based on weight and/or height rather than age.

The law also only outlines the bare minimum that is required to not get a ticket. These requirements are not the safest way to protect your child. By only following the state requirements, you risk endangering your child if you are in an accident.

So, what is the best way to protect your child in case of an accident? Follow the manufacturers’ recommendations for the car seat you purchased. This will make you compliant with Florida car seat laws and give you the safest options for your child.


Infants start in rear-facing car seats as soon as they leave the hospital. There is no mention in the Florida statute that gives you a timeline for when to switch your child from rear-facing to forward facing. Nationally, the guidelines say that it is safest to keep your infant rear-facing for as long as the manufacturer’s guidelines allow. You can find the height and weight recommendations in your car seat’s booklet.


As stated above, there is no specific law as to when to switch your child to forward facing in their car seat. The statute also fails to tell you when to stop using the forward-facing car seat. We suggest following the manufacturer’s guidelines again. Most guidelines suggest switching to forward facing at around 25 pounds. The safest option is to keep your child in their car seat as long as they are within the height and weight limits. This means your child could be four years old before you switch to forward facing.

Booster Seat

Florida laws say that you can begin using booster seats at age four. Experts within the field suggest you wait to use a booster seat when your child outgrows the weight or height limit for their forward-facing car seat. That’s usually at 85 pounds or 35 inches. There are a few important milestones your child should hit before they utilize a booster seat. They should have outgrown the internal harness on their forward-facing car seat, hit a weight mark of 40 to 80 pounds, are at least 35 inches in height, and your child can’t sit with their back against the seat with knees bending at the edge of the seat cushion. Your child can continue to use a booster seat safely until they reach 80 pounds and are 4’9” tall.

Using A Seat Belt

Florida law states that children can stop using booster seats and switch to be using just a seat belt when they turn six. As we mentioned before, children grow at different rates, and six is not always the safest age to get rid of the booster seat. Safety experts suggest your child be at least 4’9” tall and 8 years old before they can use an adult seat belt. Experts also suggest that your child’s entire back can touch the back seat, their knees bend at the edge of the seat, the lap portion of the belt rests across their collar bone between the shoulder and neck, and your child can sit in this position the entirety of the car ride. In general, most children will be 10 or 11 before they stop using a booster seat and make the switch to an adult seat belt. While Florida’s requirement is 6 years of age, speak to your pediatrician and read through your car seat’s manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure the safest option for your child.

Car Seat Safety Checks

You may not know, but 3 out of every 4 car seats are installed improperly. The best way to ensure your car seat is properly installed is by having it checked by certified technicians. You can make an appointment through SafeKids’ website or call your local fire station or police department. When scheduling, you will be asked for the age and weight of the child, the make, model, and year of your car, and the manufacturer name and model number of your car seat. These checks are completely free and could make the difference for your child if you are ever in an accident.

A Final Note

We at Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney have seen our fair share of accidents. But the best news we hear is when someone tells us that their child didn’t even receive a scratch during the incident because their car seat was installed correctly, and they were within the required and recommended car seat specs. While Florida’s car seat laws state the bare minimum that is required of you, we recommend you follow manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations as well as get your car seat checked by a certified installation technician to provide the safest opportunities for your child. If you are ever in an accident with your child, we suggest giving us a call at any of our six locations to see what your options are.