(1)(a) 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.
1. For children aged through 3 years, such restraint device must be a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat.
2. For children aged 4 through 5 years, a separate carrier, an integrated child seat, or a child booster seat may be used. However, the requirement to use a child restraint device under this subparagraph does not apply when a safety belt is used as required in s. 316.614(4)(a) and the child:
a. Is being transported gratuitously by an operator who is not a member of the child’s immediate family;
b. Is being transported in a medical emergency situation involving the child; or
c. Has a medical condition that necessitates an exception as evidenced by appropriate documentation from a health care professional.
(b) The department shall provide notice of the requirement for child restraint devices, which notice shall accompany the delivery of each motor vehicle license tag.
(2) As used in this section, the term “motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle as defined in s. 316.003 that is operated on the roadways, streets, and highways of the state. The term does not include:
(b) A bus used for the transportation of persons for compensation, other than a bus regularly used to transport children to or from school, as defined in s. 316.615(1)(b), or in conjunction with school activities.
(c) A farm tractor or implement of husbandry.
(d) A truck having a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds.
(e) A motorcycle, moped, or bicycle.
(3) The failure to provide and use a child passenger restraint shall not be considered comparative negligence, nor shall such failure be admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action with regard to negligence.
(4) It is the legislative intent that all state, county, and local law enforcement agencies, and safety councils, in recognition of the problems with child death and injury from unrestrained occupancy in motor vehicles, conduct a continuing safety and public awareness campaign as to the magnitude of the problem.
(5) Any person who violates this section commits a moving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318 and shall have 3 points assessed against his or her driver license as set forth in s. 322.27. In lieu of the penalty specified in s. 318.18 and the assessment of points, a person who violates this section may elect, with the court’s approval, to participate in a child restraint safety program approved by the chief judge of the circuit in which the violation occurs, and, upon completing such program, the penalty specified in chapter 318 and associated costs may be waived at the court’s discretion and the assessment of points shall be waived. The child restraint safety program must use a course approved by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and the fee for the course must bear a reasonable relationship to the cost of providing the course.
(6) The child restraint requirements imposed by this section do not apply to a chauffeur-driven taxi, limousine, sedan, van, bus, motor coach, or other passenger vehicle if the operator and the motor vehicle are hired and used for the transportation of persons for compensation. It is the obligation and responsibility of the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for a child’s welfare as defined in s. 39.01 to comply with the requirements of this section.
History.—s. 1, ch. 82-58; s. 1, ch. 86-49; s. 2, ch. 87-200; s. 2, ch. 91-136; s. 28, ch. 94-306; s. 903, ch. 95-148; s. 35, ch. 96-350; s. 56, ch. 99-8; s. 240, ch. 99-248; s. 1, ch. 99-316; s. 18, ch. 2000-313; s. 40, ch. 2005-164; s. 9, ch. 2008-176; s. 14, ch. 2011-66; s. 13, ch. 2012-181; s. 53, ch. 2014-224; s. 1, ch. 2014-226.