Drivers who don’t wear their seat belts could be pulled over
under legislation in the Montana House.
enforcement officers in the state can issue seat-belt citations to drivers only
after stopping a vehicle for another traffic violation.
sponsored by Sen. Mike Cooney, D-Helena, would change that to allow officers to
stop drivers for not buckling up. Violators would be fined $20 – the same as
current state law.
While supporters of a primary seat-belt law sometimes point
to federal money the state would lose for failing to scrap its secondary law,
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says no direct grant funds
are doled out for having a primary law.
However, there could
be a $17 million perk for Montana to strengthen its law.
Jeffrey Runge, head
of the NHTSA, said recently the federal government plans to offer a $17
million, one-time incentive to states that pass a primary law.
Montana is one of 28
states without the stricter provision. 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.
SB43 is in the House Judiciary Committee. It previously
passed the Senate.