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  • Safety Laws in Florida

    Introduction

    The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) has safety laws and guidelines in place to keep drivers and pedestrians safe on the road. Safety laws cover everything from child car seats, seat belts, drunk driving, and helmets.

    Make sure you follow the rules to keep yourself and others safe, and avoid receiving a fine, license suspension, or even jail time.

    It is also important to know that, if you receive a citation, additional county penalties may be added on top of state fines. Check with your county clerk for additional fines and fees.

    Florida Child Car Seat Laws

    It is the responsibility of the supervising adult to ensure that any child under 5 years old is seated in a federally-approved child car seat. Failure to do so could result in a $60 fine and 3 points against your driver’s license.

    Florida law states:

    • Children 5 years old or younger must be secured in a federally approved child restraint system.
    • Children 3 years old and younger must use a separate car-seat or the vehicle's built-in child seat.
    • Children 4 to 5 years old must sit in either a separate car seat, a built in child seat or a seat belt, depending on the child's height and weight.

    Use the following car seat guidelines from the FLHSMV while driving with a child in your vehicle.

    • Birth – 1 year old and at least 20 lbs.
      • Use a rear-facing child car seat in the back seat of the car.
    • 1 year old and 20 lbs. 4 years old and 40 lbs.
      • Use a rear-facing child car seat in the back seat until they outgrow the weight and height limit of the child car seat.
      • Normally when children are over 1 year old and weigh over 20 pounds, you can switch to a forward-facing car seat in the back of the car.
    • 4 years old and 40 lbs. 8 years old or 4'9" tall
      • Use a forward-facing child seat in the back seat until they reach the weight and height limits recommended by the manufacturer.
      • Switch to a booster seat in the back of the car.
    • 8 years old or 4'9" tall 12 years old
      • Use a booster seat in the back seat until your child is big enough to use the car’s seat belt.
      • At 13 years old, your child can sit in the front seat of your car.

    For more information, please check out the Florida HSMV's safety brochure on child safety seats.

    Never put your child in a child car seat in the front of a vehicle with a passenger air bag. It is always safest for your child to ride in the back seat.

    Seat Belt Laws in Florida

    The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) requires you to wear a seat belt while in an operating vehicle if you are:

    • The driver of the vehicle.
    • A front seat passenger of any age.
    • Under 18 years old.

    Failure to wear a seat belt could result in a fine of $30 plus any other associated legal fees and additional fees.

    You do not need to wear a seat belt if you:

    • Have a medical condition preventing the use of a seat belt due to safety hazards.
    • Are delivering newspapers as part of a home delivery service.
    • Are working in a waste and recyclables collection service.

    Cell Phone Use on Florida Roads

    As of October 1, 2013 it is now illegal to text while driving. This applies to all drivers, regardless of age.

    There are no talking bans on cell phones while driving.

    Florida Helmet Laws

    Motorcycle and Moped Helmet Laws

    In Florida, you must wear a federally-approved helmet while riding a motorcycle unless you are over 21 years old and covered by at least $10,000 in medical insurance for motorcycle related injuries.

    If you are under 16 years old you must wear a helmet while riding a moped.

    Failure to wear an appropriate helmet could result in a fines from the Florida DHSMV. It is recommended that you wear a helmet at all times while riding a motorcycle or moped to avoid any serious head injuries in the event of an accident.

    Bicycle Helmet Laws

    If you are under 16 years old, you must wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet that meets national standards. This also applies to child passengers riding in a trailer or semitrailer attached to the bicycle.

    You risk a fine of $15 if you do not wear a helmet while riding a bicycle in Florida.

    FL DUI and Drunk Driving Laws

    You can be charged for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida if your normal functions are impaired due to alcohol or drugs, or if your blood alcohol level is .08% or higher.

    You can face the following charges for your first DUI offense:

    • $500–$2,000 fine depending on your blood alcohol level and whether a minor was in your vehicle at the time of the offense.
    • 50 hours of community service or an additional $10 fine for each hour of mandatory community service.
    • Probationary period of up to 1 year.
    • Up to 9 months imprisonment depending on your blood alcohol level.
    • 10 days impoundment of your vehicle.
    • Suspension of your driver’s license for 180 days–1 year.

    For more information Florida DUI laws and penalties, visit our guide on DUI & DWI in Florida.

    Report a Drunk or Dangerous Driver

    If you see someone whom you suspect is driving while intoxicated, notify your local authorities immediately. Some typical signs of someone who is drunk driving include:

    • Problems staying in their lane, and/or weaving and swerving across lanes.
    • Braking too early and having problems driving the speed limit.
    • Delayed or no reaction to traffic signals and other hazards.
    • Poor judgment and unusual behavior.

    You can also anonymously report a potential dangerous driver to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLDHSMV) via their website’s reporting portal. As a guide, the types of medical conditions that can make someone a dangerous driver include:

    • Drug and alcohol addiction.
    • Seizure disorders.
    • Severe psychiatric disorders.
    • Visual impairments.
    • Sleep disorders.
    • Severe cardiovascular impairments.
    • Memory or judgment problems.
    • Severe head injuries.

    For more information about reporting a dangerous driver, call the Division of Motorist Services – Medical Review Section at (850) 617-3814.

    It is also important to remember that various medications can affect your driving abilities. For more information, visit our page on Medications & Driving.

    http://www.flhsmv.gov/html/contact.html

    Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

    Unattended Children in Florida

    The state of Florida punishes adults who leave children under 6 years old unattended in a motor vehicle, whether the vehicle is running or not.

    • If the vehicle is running and the child's health is in danger, you can be fined $50–$500 by leaving a child unattended for any period of time.
    • If the vehicle is not running and the child is not in any danger, you may only leave your child unattended for up to 15 minutes or risk being fined up to $100.

    If a Florida law enforcement officer finds you are in breach of these rules and they can’t locate you (or the adult responsible), they have the right take your child into the custody of the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services.

    Florida Headlight Laws

    Headlights on Cars and Motorcycles

    All motor vehicles in Florida must have 2 headlights in good working order that shine a white light. The headlights must not be covered or altered in any way.

    You must turn your car headlights on between the hours of sunset and sunrise, or when visibility is insufficient due to lighting or weather conditions. Failure to use approved headlights could result in being cited for a moving violation, the fine for which varies based upon frequency and severity – up to a maximum of $500.

    You must have your headlights on at all times while riding a motorcycle, even during the day.

    For tips on safe driving at night, visit our page on Night Driving.

    Bicycle Headlights

    If you are riding your bicycle between sunset and sunrise, you must use the following lights on your bike or risk a $15 fine:

    • A white lamp on the front, visible from at least 500 feet.
    • A red reflector on the back, visible from at least 600 feet.

    Boating Laws in Florida

    Reckless and Careless Boating

    In Florida, you can be imprisoned and fined for reckless or careless operation of a boating vessel. The imprisonment and fines become stricter if anyone is injured. It is illegal to operate any vessel in a way that is likely to endanger other people or property, including:

    • Staying within the posted speed and wake limits.
    • Being aware of other waterborne traffic.
    • Complying with navigation rules.

    Boating Under the Influence

    You can be found guilty of boating under the influence in Florida if your blood alcohol level (BAC) is .08% or higher. You risk the following penalties:

    • First offense: $500–$1,000 fine and up to 6 months imprisonment.
    • Second offense: $1,000­­–$2,000 fine and up to 9 months imprisonment.

    Subsequent offenses will receive heavier fines and jail time of up to 5 years.

    If your blood alcohol level is .15% or higher at the time of conviction, you may receive additional punishment, including:

    • Monthly reporting probation.
    • Attendance at a substance abuse course.
    • Psychosocial evaluation and treatment.

    If you are under 21 years old and have a blood alcohol level of .02% or higher, you could receive the following penalties:

    • Mandatory community service for at least 50 hours.
    • Suspension from operating any vessel.
    • Successful completion of an approved boating safety course.

    To learn more about safe boating practices, read our 7 Boating Safety Tips for Staying Safe on the Water.

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