By Memorial Day weekend, drivers in Mississippi will risk a ticket if
they or any of their passengers fail to buckle up.
Gov. Haley Barbour signed a bill into law Tuesday, Feb. 7, that makes
failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense.
The Senate approved the final version of a bill late last month. The
new law allows police to pull over drivers if they, a front-seat passenger or
any child under age 8 anywhere in the vehicle, is not strapped in.
Violators would face a $25 fine – the same as current state law.
Before the new law, police could issue seat-belt citations to drivers
only after stopping vehicles for other traffic violations, such as speeding.
The primary rule is intended to boost the state’s 60.8 percent belt
usage rate – the lowest in the nation. It also will provide a boost to road and
bridge funding in the state.
Federal highway funding legislation approved in August 2005 gives any
state that adopts tougher seat-belt rules or achieves a belt usage rate of 85
percent a one-time federal grant for roads. With primary enforcement, Mississippi stands to claim $8.7 million.
Mississippi’s stricter rule will take effect on May 27,
the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend.