Tougher seat-belt law advances in Colorado

| 2/6/2006

A Colorado House panel has approved a bill that would permit police to pull over drivers who are not buckled up.

Currently, police can issue seat-belt citations to drivers in the state only after stopping a vehicle for another traffic violation, such as speeding.

The House Transportation and Energy Committee voted Wednesday, Feb. 1, to advance the measure – HB1125 – to the full House, where a similar bill fell one vote shy of advancing to Gov. Bill Owens’ desk a year ago.

Despite lawmakers’ previous inability to adopt stricter rules on buckling up, Colorado still could be in line for additional federal dollars if it passes a primary enforcement bill by Dec. 31, 2008.

The Highway Bill approved by Congress last year 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. Colorado, with a usage rate of 79 percent, could claim $12 million, the Denver Post reported.

Colorado is one of 25 states without the stricter provision. Twenty-four states, including Alaska and Mississippi who recently adopted stricter rules, 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.