At What Age Can Kids Sit in the Front Seat of a Car in Florida?
Gregg Hollander | September 26, 2023 | Florida Law
Florida has both seat belt and child car seat laws in place, but it does not have a law that explicitly addresses the minimum age for someone to ride in the front seat of a vehicle. Nevertheless, you can read between the lines to infer a soft age limit on children riding in the front seat.
Getting a traffic citation is not the only risk you and your child face if they do so prematurely, though, as in a car accident, a child has a much higher risk of getting injured or killed if they ride in the front seat. Worse yet, an insurance adjuster or jury could deprive your child of fair compensation should they find you negligent in protecting your child from harm.
Child Passenger Laws in Florida
Florida law imposes a legal duty on drivers to secure children under six years old in an approved child restraint. Children three years old or younger must ride in a car seat, a term that includes both rear-facing and forward-facing seats, which both feature an integral seat back that secures a five-point harness.
Due to the small stature of a child, a five-point harness prevents ejection much more effectively than a traditional vehicle seat belt. The seat backs also support the child’s head and neck, reducing the odds of whiplash injuries in an accident.
Children who are four or older can ride in a booster seat, which lifts the child so the vehicle’s seat belt crosses their chest as opposed to their neck. The law does not require children over three to move to a booster seat, though it does provide the option of a booster seat if the child has outgrown a car seat.
Once a child reaches six years old, Florida’s car seat law no longer applies, and the seat belt law takes over. Children six through 17 must wear a seat belt regardless of where they ride in a vehicle.
When Do Florida Traffic Laws Allow a Child To Ride in the Front Seat?
Neither of Florida’s vehicular laws addresses where a child must sit, and the state has no other laws in place to help analyze the issue. The constraints on where a child can ride depend on their seat, their age and size, and the type of vehicle their parents have.
Florida’s child car seat laws require drivers to “properly use” the child’s car seat or booster seat, which means you can violate the law by failing to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing and using your child restraint device.
Car seat and booster seat manufacturers advise against using their products in the front seat except as a last resort. Thus, if you have a pickup truck without a rear seat, you can still “properly use” the child seat or booster seat in the front.
Once the child reaches their sixth birthday, Florida has no traffic laws prohibiting parents from seating their child in the front. As long as the child uses their seat belt, the driver has technically complied with Florida’s child passenger laws.
Civil Liability For Child Injuries
Florida’s no-fault insurance system allows accident victims to pursue a claim against an at-fault driver for significant, permanent injuries. If you allowed your child to ride in the front seat, an insurance adjuster or jury could find that you unreasonably exposed your child to a risk of injury.
Best practices dictate that children should be at least 13 years old to ride in the front, and your child’s compensation might get reduced by your share of the blame under Florida’s comparative negligence law.
Recovering Compensation For Your Child After a Florida Car Accident
A Florida personal injury lawyer can help you understand your child’s right to pursue compensation after a car accident. If your child was injured in the front seat, the lawyer can explain the legal risks you face in an injury claim.
Contact Our Medical Malpractice Law Firm in South Florida
If you’ve been injured in an accident, please contact our experienced personal injury lawyers in Florida at Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today. We have three convenient locations in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.
Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – Boca Raton Law Office
7000 W Palmetto Park Rd #500
Boca Raton, FL 33433
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Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – West Palm Beach Law Office
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West Palm Beach, FL 33401