Here’s a quick note for drivers in
– if the
panhandler seems more interested in your seat belt than your spare change, you
might be in for a big surprise around the next corner.
To help catch drivers who refuse to buckle
up, the Washington State Patrol is putting undercover officers on street
corners and dressing them as panhandlers The
Seattle Times reported. Armed with signs that read “Happy Holidays
Buckle Up” and a two-way radio, officers are able to get a close-up view of
drivers’ buckling habits, and radio ahead to officers waiting in patrol cars.
According to The
Times, a recent effort of this sort in
netted 41 stops and 30 citations, each carrying a cost
of $101. The state has had a primary seatbelt law since 2002, which allows law
enforcement officers to pull over drivers for seatbelt violations.
While the undercover operation is not
illegal, and WSP officials have argued that the initiative has helped increase
seat-belt usage, opponents believe the program is an invasion of privacy.
“I’m not sure it’s great public policy,”
a professor at
, told The Times.