Colorado Senate approves tougher seat-belt rule

| Wednesday, March 22, 2006

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

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 approved the bill after making two changes. The amendments force the bill – HB1125 – back to the House for another vote before it can be cleared to head to Gov. Bill Owens’ desk.

Colorado law allows police to fine violators $15. The amended version would increase fines to $25 for adults and $75 for failure to secure a child. Another change would allow drivers with back problems to obtain a waiver with a release from a chiropractor.

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 primary enforcement is signed into law, Colorado would be in line for additional federal dollars.

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.

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