Tennessee Senate panel passes seat-belt bill

| 4/14/2004

The Tennessee Senate Transportation Committee passed a bill April 7 that would permit police to pull over drivers who are not buckled up.

Currently, police can issue seat-belt citations to drivers older than age 17 only after stopping a vehicle for another traffic violation.

However, such violations are a primary offense for anyone 17 and younger who is not belted.

Under the proposal, sponsored by Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, drivers found in violation would be fined $20, up from the current $10 fine. No points would be assessed against the driver’s license.

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 Tennessee, that would mean $15 million, The Tennessean reported.

SB3098 now heads to the Senate Finance Committee.