Stricter seat-belt rule fails in Arizona

| Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A bill has died in the Arizona Senate that sought to permit police to pull over drivers who are not buckled up. The bill – SB1584 – failed to meet a deadline to advance from the chamber to the House, effectively killing it.

Currently, police can issue seat-belt citations to drivers in the state only after stopping a vehicle for another traffic violation, such as speeding. Sen. Amanda Aguirre, D-Yuma, offered a bill that would have allowed for primary enforcement of the state’s seat-belt rule.

Failure to buckle up would have continued to be a $10 fine. No points would have been added to driver’s licenses and insurance companies wouldn’t be notified.

Supporters said saving lives are reason enough to approve the stricter rule. Opponents cited personal choice and the potential for racial profiling among the concerns about the stricter enforcement effort. Others said the state’s nearly 95 percent usage rate shows that drivers don’t need the extra incentive to buckle up.

Arizona is one of 25 states without the stricter provision. 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 law.

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