For the fourth year in a row, an effort in the Utah Legislature to
permit police in the state to pull over drivers who are not buckled up has been
The House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee voted 6-4
against the bill to strengthen the state’s seat belt-rules. The Senate had
already approved the measure.
Sponsored by Sen. Karen Hale, D-Midvale, the bill – SB98 – sought to
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, meaning
the younger drivers can be pulled over solely for that violation.
This was Hale’s fourth attempt at the stricter rule, which has passed
the Senate three years in a row only to be thwarted by House lawmakers.
Opponents cited personal choice and the potential for racial profiling
in voting down the bill.
Hale said she’s not undeterred by her failures to get it through the
“It’s unfortunate,” she told The
Salt Lake Tribune. “I think lives could be saved through more
Utah is one of 25 states without a primary 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.