Should Wearing a Seat Belt Be a Primary Offense?
Written by Lindsey Burnworth
Last updated on April 12, 2013 @ 12:48PM
Created on April 11, 2013 @ 3:54PM
Police in our state are one step closer to being able to pull over a driver for not wearing a seat belt. The bill passed in the Senate on Wednesday, after passing in the House just two weeks ago.
So, how can this help officers keep everyone safe?
Seat belt use is already mandatory, but the new law will make it a primary offense, meaning a driver wouldn't have to be stopped for another violation first.
Officers said this may push more people to buckle up for fear of getting a citation. They believe being able to pull someone over for not wearing a seat belt will also remind parents to always buckle their kids up as well.
The bill passed in the Senate on a 24 to 10 vote on Wednesday, after passing in the House.
If passed, the fine for failing to wear a seat belt would be $25 with no court costs or points on driver's license.
Officers said they believe even a small fine will get more people to buckle up in the car.
"The whole intention of the seatbelt is to make people safer, especially in crashes, especially with children. You stand a better chance of surviving a crash with your seat belt on, so I think it'll encourage people more to wear the seat belt more for fear of getting pulled over for not wearing it, and in turn it'll just make everybody safer out there on the roads," said Deputy Rodney Rolenson of the Upshur County Sheriff's Department.
Those against the law say it should be someone's right whether or not to wear a seat belt.
5 News talked with folks in the community to get their reaction.
One woman said she supports the law because it'll keep everyone safer.
"I think it's actually a good thing because I'm real strict on my kids wearing their seat belts, and seat belts do save lives. I think it'll make it a lot easier for the officers. They won't have to look for a reason to pull you over before they can write you for your seat belt," said Victoria Starkey of Buckhannon.
The bill will now go to Governor Tomblin's office, where he'll decide to sign the bill into law.
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