A leading Minnesota state lawmaker has offered a bill that
would permit police to pull over drivers in the state for not wearing their
Currently, police in the state can ticket drivers for not
buckling up only after stopping a vehicle for another traffic violation, such
as speeding or a bad taillight.
The chairman of the Transportation Budget and Policy
Division of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing,
introduced a bill that would allow for primary enforcement of the state's
Violators would face at least $25 in fines and fees. No
points would be assessed against the driver's license.
Opponents cite personal choice and the potential for racial
profiling among the concerns about the stricter enforcement effort. Supporters
say saving lives and the lure of federal money should be reason enough to
approve the stricter rule.
If approved, Minnesota would be line for a one-time $15
million payment from the federal government, the Minneapolis Star Tribune
The 2005 Federal Highway Bill gives any state that adopts
tougher seat-belt rules or achieves a belt usage rate of 85 percent one-time
grant money equal to 500 percent of the highway funding they received in 2003.
Minnesota has a seat-belt usage rate of 82 percent.
There are 25 states without a primary seat-belt law.
Twenty-four states allow police to pull over drivers solely for not wearing
their seat belts. New Hampshire is the only state without a mandatory seat-belt
Murphy's bill - SF16 - is in the Senate Finance Committee.
- By Keith Goble,
state legislative editor