The Alaska Legislature approved a bill last week that would permit
police to pull over drivers not wearing their seat belts.
Currently, police in the state can issue seat-belt citations to drivers
only after stopping a vehicle for another traffic violation, such as speeding.
Sponsored by Sen. Con Bunde, R-Anchorage, the measure – SB87 – would
create a primary law for seat-belt enforcement once the governor signs the
bill. It would bring the state in line to claim additional federal highway
Violators would face a $60 fine – the same as current state law.
The bill passed both the House and Senate a year ago, but was called
back to the House floor for approval of changes at the end of the session.
Lawmakers wasted little time at the start of the 2006 session making final
revisions and signing off on the bill.
It now heads to Gov. Frank Murkowski for his signature.
Alaska’s roads and bridges stand to lose out on federal funding if the
state fails to approve a primary enforcement bill by Dec. 31, 2008.
The Highway Bill approved by Congress in August 2005 gives any state
that adopts tougher seat-belt rules or achieves a belt usage rate of 85 percent
one-time federal grant money for roads. Alaska, which has a usage rate of 78
percent, stands to get $3.7 million.
Alaska is one of 27 states without the stricter provision. Legislators
in some of those states, however, have brought up bills this year to add their
state to the list of 22 that already 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.