TALLAHASSEE -- Starting in January, children under age 5 must ride in a child safety seat in Florida when traveling in an automobile under legislation passed Tuesday by the Senate and sent to the governor.
House Bill 225 received final approval after legislators had tried for 14 years to get the measure passed. The vote was 36-3.
Under the bill, pushed by members of the Florida Junior League and sponsored by state Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, children ages 4
and 5, who often outgrow car seats, must have a booster seat.
Drivers who violate the requirement are subject to a $60 fine, court costs and add-ons, and having three points assessed against their driver's license. To avoid the points, the driver may participate in a child restraint safety program.
There are some exceptions: children between 4 and 5 years of age may use a seat belt if the driver is not a member of the child's immediate family and the child is being transported as a favor to the family, in the case of an emergency or when a doctor provides reason for an exception.
"This is a wonderful bill and it's going to save children's lives," said state Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, who worked on passing the bill for years.
State Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, called it a "mom's issue."
State Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami, called it a "father issue, too."
And state Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, said concerned uncles support it as well.