Ohio lawmaker pursues stricter seat-belt rule

| 7/8/2005

Police would be permitted to pull over drivers in Ohio who are not buckled up under a bill offered by a House lawmaker.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Chandler, D-Kent, would create a primary law for seat-belt enforcement.

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

Under the proposal – HB90 – law enforcement officers would issue violators a warning for the first six months of implementation. After that, drivers found in violation would be fined $30 – the same amount as current Ohio law. No points would be assessed against the driver’s license.

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 financial perk for Ohio to strengthen its law.

A proposal before Congress would give any state that adopts tougher seat-belt rules one-time grant money equal to 500 percent of the highway funding they received in 2003, The Associated Press reported.

Ohio 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.