Stricter seat-belt rule canned in Nevada

| 6/11/2007

Drivers in Nevada who don’t like to wear seat belts can continue to travel through the state without fear of being pulled over for not buckling up.

Currently, law enforcement in the state can issue seat-belt citations to drivers only after stopping a vehicle for another traffic violation, such as speeding.

A bill that would have allowed for primary enforcement of the state’s seat belt law missed a deadline to advance from committee in the Assembly, effectively killing it for the year. The Senate previously approved the bill – SB42 – on an 11-10 vote.

Not buckling up would have continued to be a $25 fine.

Opponents cited personal choice and the potential for racial profiling among the concerns about the stricter enforcement effort. Supporters said saving lives and the lure of federal money should be reason enough to approve the stricter rule.

Failure to approve the bill puts the state in jeopardy of losing millions in federal funding for roads and bridges.

The 2005 federal Highway Bill gives any state that adopts tougher seat-belt rules one-time grant money equal to 500 percent of the highway funding they received in 2003. To avoid losing out on the money, states must approve primary enforcement by Dec. 31, 2008.

Nevada is one of 24 states without a primary seat-belt law. Maine’s recent adoption of the stricter rule brings to 25 the number of states that 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.