Missouri legislator vows mandatory seat-belt law

| 12/2/2004

A key Missouri state lawmaker predicted this week that a bill to permit police to pull over drivers for not buckling up will become law.

Senate Transportation Committee Chair Jon Dolan told a group of lawmakers Nov. 30 that a primary seat belt law is important for safety and could bring the state millions of dollars in federal incentive money.

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

“Seat belts will pass this year, or many (other) bills will die,” Dolan, R-Lake St. Louis, said during a meeting of the Missouri Legislature’s Joint Transportation Oversight committee. “It’s just something that we have to do.”

The penalty for a driver, front seat passenger or child not wearing a seat belt “will only be $15. No court costs. No incident search. No points,” Dolan said.

If signed into law, the regulation could put the state in line for $16 million in additional funding from the federal government, The Associated Press reported.

Dolan said he also might support efforts to do away with Missouri’s mandatory motorcycle helmet law if that will help pass the seat belt provision.

But he doesn’t support a prohibition against open alcohol containers in vehicles.

States that don’t have such a law must use some of their federal highway dollars on safety issues, such as guardrails and road signs, but they don’t lose any federal funding.

Both tougher seat-belt provisions and a ban on open alcohol containers are among the Missouri Department of Transportation’s legislative goals for the session that begins in January.