Is it Legal to Have a Child on a Motorcycle in Florida?

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Motorcycling is a common activity in Florida, where clear, sunny weather more than 100 days of the year makes for perfect motorcycling conditions. If you want to bring the kids along for the ride, however, make sure to do so within the state’s traffic and transportation laws. Otherwise, you could risk a ticket or even criminal charges…or worse, serious child passenger injuries in a collision.

Florida’s Laws on Carrying Child Passengers

It is legal to ride with a child passenger on a motorcycle in Florida. However, the state has strict laws on how to safely carry these passengers. Riding with a minor passenger has significant risks operators must accommodate. All riders and passengers under the age of 21 must wear safety-approved motorcycle helmets. The helmet must fit the child properly and snugly, as well as bear the seal of approval from the Department of Transportation or the Snell Memorial Foundation.

Florida does not have a minimum age for child motorcycle passengers. Children traveling in standard motor vehicles require specific safety or booster seats according to age, height and weight. When it comes to having a child passenger on a motorcycle, however, basic safety standards state to wait until the child is tall enough to put his or her feet on the passenger footrests. If the child’s feet cannot reach the footrests, it could make the motorcycle unstable and unreasonably dangerous.

A rider could have a child of almost any age as a passenger on a motorcycle lawfully, as long as the action does not qualify as negligence or child endangerment. To accommodate a passenger of any age, the motorcycle must have a dedicated passenger seat in Florida, as well as passenger footrests. Otherwise, it is against the law to carry a passenger – adult or child. If a reasonable and prudent party would have thought it safe to carry a child passenger on the motorcycle, the operator may not be guilty of negligence.

Infractions for Breaking Florida’s Motorcycle Laws

If you disobey any of Florida’s motorcycle laws, police could charge you with a traffic offense. Riding with a child passenger who cannot reach the footrests or is not wearing a helmet, for example, could qualify as traffic infractions. The penalties for most motorcycle offenses are fines. Violating a more serious law, however, such as motorcycling under the influence with a child passenger, could result in jail time.

A traffic offense is not the only thing you have to worry about if you break Florida’s laws while carrying a child passenger. If the child is young enough to constitute child endangerment by bringing him or her along, you could face criminal charges and severe penalties. You could also face liability for the child’s personal injuries or death if you get into a motorcycle accident – even if you did not cause the crash.

Liability for an Accident Involving a Child Passenger

If you get into a motorcycle accident with a child passenger, many different parties could be liable for damages. In Florida, it is only necessary to determine fault for a vehicle collision if it involves serious, permanent or catastrophic injuries. Otherwise, all involved parties will seek damage compensation from their own insurance companies.

  • Another driver. Another driver could be responsible for your damages if he or she caused the collision through negligence such as drunk or distracted driving.
  • The city. The city where the accident occurred could be liable if you crashed because of a pothole, loose gravel, debris or another roadway defect.
  • A product manufacturer. The manufacturer of the motorcycle could be liable if a defective or dangerous auto part contributed to your accident.

The child’s parents may be able to hold you liable for injuries or deaths if it was negligent to have the child passenger on the motorcycle. If, however, you can show that you did so within Florida’s laws and according to reasonable safety practices, you could avoid liability. A Florida motorcycle accident attorney could help you prove your case against a driver or other party in pursuit of financial relief.