Until the first day of this new year, Florida had the most relaxed child safety seat law in the United States — according to the old law, children were required to be in a safety seat only through the age of 3 years-old.
Now, that’s changing, and Florida parents and other drivers need to be aware of the new requirements, as fines and other types of punishment will be handed out if the requirements aren’t met (with a few exceptions to be detailed below).
Our Palm Beach and Broward County traffic ticket attorneys know that the new law requires that drivers use a crash-tested child restraint seat, which has been approved by the federal government, for children at least until they reach the age of six years old. Thereafter, it’s the parent’s responsibility to make sure that any child under seven is “properly secured,” according to the Miami Herald.
This new change in the law, which essentially states that simply restraining 4- and 5-year-olds with a seat belt is no longer sufficient, reflects the safety issues surrounding this issue. According to the Sun Sentinel, Last year, improper or lack of use of child restraints led to the death of 5 children and the injury of roughly 150 others.
Our traffic ticket defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that research conducted by the CDC has shown so-called booster seats to reduce the risk of serious injury to 4 to 8 year old children by about 45%.
Despite this law’s significant change in the previous statute, we know that there are a number of exceptions to the new regulations. Namely, 4- and 5-year old children may use a seat belt if the driver of the vehicle in which they’re sitting is not a member of the child’s immediate family; in case of an emergency; or if a doctor has provided a reason that the child may simply use a seat belt.
The existence of these exceptions is critical to fighting tickets relating to a violation of this law. Upon issuing a ticket for breaking this rule, a police officer may not know or may not believe that the driver is not a given child’s parent or sibling, or that the traffic stop occurred in the midst of an emergency, or that the child’s doctor provided a reason for why the child shouldn’t be restrained by a booster seat. Arguing, and proving, that any of these exceptions apply is key to successfully fighting a traffic ticket relating to this new law.
Drivers who violate the law and do not successfully fight the ticket face a $60 fine, court fees and costs, and having three points assessed to their driver’s license (which can result in both increased insurance costs and an increased likelihood that a police officer will issue a ticket rather than give you the benefit of the doubt the next time you’re pulled over.
If you happen to be issued a traffic ticket for this or any other violation of state law, please contact our Palm Beach and Broward County traffic ticket defense lawyers to schedule a free consultation by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363). We look forward to assisting you.