Utah Senate passes primary seat-belt enforcement bill

| 2/14/2006

A bill that would permit police in Utah to pull over drivers who are not buckled up has been approved by the state’s Senate.

Senators voted 15-10 to advance the measure to the House. The five-vote margin was the minimum margin needed to pass.

Sponsored by Sen. Karen Hale, D-Midvale, the bill – SB98 – would create a primary law for seat-belt enforcement. Currently, law enforcement officers can ticket drivers and passengers age 19 or older for seat-belt violations only after stopping vehicles for another traffic violation. However, such violations are a primary offense for anyone under the age of 19.

This is Hale’s fourth attempt at the stricter rule, which got the Senate OK each of the past two years only to be thwarted by House lawmakers.

Hale said she’s not undeterred by past limited successes.

“Hopefully we’ll have a good discussion in the House,” Hale told the Daily Herald. “I know that some rural legislators who have been not as supportive in years before have become more supportive, so we’ll see what happens.”

Utah is one of 25 states without a mandatory seat-belt law. 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.