Tougher seat-belt law dropped in North Dakota

| Monday, March 07, 2005

The North Dakota Senate has rejected a bill that would permit police to pull over drivers who are not wearing their seat belts.

Senators voted 36-8 on Feb. 14 to defeat the effort, concluding it would do little aside from making it easier for police to pull over motorists.

“People ought to wear their seat belts,” said Sen. Tom Trenbeath, R-Cavalier. “But primary seat-belt laws are not effective.”

Currently, officers can issue seat-belt citations to drivers in North Dakota only after stopping a vehicle for another traffic violation.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Duaine Espegard, R-Grand Forks, would change that to allow law enforcement officers to stop drivers for not buckling up.

North Dakota is one of 28 states without a primary seat-belt law. Twenty-one states allow police to pull over drivers solely for not wearing their seat belts. New Hampshire is the only state without a mandatory seat-belt law.

Trenbeath told The Associated Press the present law is not being enforced as vigorously as possible. The Highway Patrol, when it operates sobriety checkpoints, does not ticket motorists who are not wearing belts, he said.

“In the end, all a primary seat-belt law would do, would be to allow law enforcement another reason to stop your vehicle,” Trenbeath said.