Tougher seat-belt law advances in Colorado

| 3/9/2006

Police would be permitted to pull over drivers who are not buckled up under a bill approved by a Colorado Senate committee.

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 Senate Judiciary Committee voted Monday, March 6, to advance the bill – HB1125 – to the full Senate. The House approved the bill on a 33-32 vote.

Supporters said passing the legislation would save lives. Opponents argued the legislation is less effective than a good marketing campaign and could lead to racial profiling.

If approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Bill Owens, Colorado would be in line for additional federal dollars if it passes a primary enforcement bill by Dec. 31, 2008.

Congress approved legislation this past year that 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.