Starting in January, Florida children under age five must ride in a child safety seat when traveling in a automobile under legislation passed 36-0 by the Senate Tuesday and sent to the governor.
The measure, HB 225, received final approval after legislators have tried for 14 years to get the measure passed.
Under the bill, pushed by members of the Florida Junior League and sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, children ages 4 and 5, who often out-grow car seats, will no longer be allowed to be restrained using a seat belt but will have to be restrained using booster seats.
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 drive may participate in a child restraint safety program.
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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 Sen. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, who worked on passing the bill for years.
Sen. Maria Sachs, D-DelrayBeach, called it a “mom’s issue.” Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami, called it a “father's issue too.” And Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, said concerned uncles support it as well.