Virginia bill would make seat belts mandatory

| 1/29/2004

Drivers caught not wearing their seat belts could be pulled over under legislation in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Delegate Joe T. May, R-Leesburg, has introduced a bill that would permit police to pull over drivers who are not buckled up. Currently, police can ticket drivers only after stopping a vehicle for another traffic violation.

Virginia is one of about 30 states without a primary seat-belt law.

May introduced legislation during the 2003 session to make Virginia a primary belt-law state. The bill passed initially, but when the House reconsidered it the following day, it failed by one vote.

The fine for not buckling up is $25, The Winchester Star reported. That amount would not change under HB540.

If signed into law, the regulation would put the state in line for additional funding from the federal government.

An incentive program recently introduced in Congressencourages states to increase seat-belt enforcement. The program would give states three years to enact a primary seat-belt law or reach a rate of usage of at least 90 percent.

Failure to do one or the other would result in a loss of up to 4 percent of federal highway funds to the state.

In Virginia that could translate into $13.8 million, the newspaper reported.