WV seat-belt bill sent back to committee

| 2/3/2003

The West Virginia House returned a bill to the Judiciary Committee Jan. 29 that would permit law enforcement officers to pull over drivers for failure to wear a seat belt.

The bill's sponsor, Delegate Jody Smirl (R-Cabell County), said discussions of HB2203 on the House floor since judiciary recommended it earlier this month led to even broader discussions.

A number of amendments were likely to be offered in committee, Smirl said.

One amendment expected to be included would reduce the allowable blood alcohol content from 0.10 to 0.08 for drunken drivers.

Under current law, officers can issue seat-belt citations only if they stop drivers for another traffic violation.

With new authority, police can pull over drivers if they see anyone in the front seat not wearing seat belts. Under the bill, the fine would be $25, the same as current law.

The bill also includes a prohibition against transporting children under age 16 in cargo areas and in the beds of pickup trucks.

--by Keith Goble, staff writer