Rhode Island eyes seat-belt initiative

| Friday, May 30, 2003

The Rhode Island Senate approved legislation May 28 that would permit police to pull over drivers simply for not buckling up.

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

With new authority, police can pull over drivers if they are not wearing a seat belt.

S695, which passed the Senate 29-7, would provide for a warning-only period from July 1 through the end of the year. Afterwards, violators would be fined $30, down from the current $75.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Daniel DaPonte, D-East Providence, told The Providence Journal that Rhode Island could be in line for additional federal money if the measure is passed.

The Bush administration recently proposed an incentive program to encourage states to increase seat-belt enforcement. Rhode Island could get $4 million annually over the next six years if Congress agrees to retain the proposal in the transportation funding reauthorization bill.

DaPonte's bill is headed to the House for consideration.

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