What is the Primary Seat Belt Law?

I have had several constituents and the MN Department of Public Safety contact me about a bill for a Primary Seat Belt Law.  To see some fact sheets I received from the Department of Public Safety click here for 2004-2006 Seat Belt Statistics, Minnesota Seat Belt Coalition Traffic Crashes & Seat Belt Use Fact Sheet and a list of groups belonging to the MSBC.  The following is a description of the current law:

Minn. Stat. 169.686 requires that a fastened seat belt be worn by: 1) the driver; 2) a passenger riding in the front seat; and 3) passengers in the rear seats who are older than three but younger than 11 years of age. (Note: those older than 11 are not required to wear a seat belt in the back seats.) As a secondary law, law enforcement cannot pull a car over for a seat belt violation. Instead, a primary traffic offense must first occur and an additional citation may be given for not wearing a seat belt.

Upgrading the above secondary law to a universal, primary law requires every person in the vehicle in every position to buckle up and allows law enforcement officers to enforce the seat belt law just as they do another other traffic law.

If you have some thoughts on this proposal please let me know.

8 thoughts on “What is the Primary Seat Belt Law?

  1. Well consider this one of your constituents asking you *not* to do this.

    Seatbelt laws fall so far from the idea of individual rights, it’s laughable. You cannot legislate every dumb activity into law. Please. Trying to stop people from making dumb decisions is not the role of the State of MN and we all know it.

  2. Please please please do NOT make this a law. I agree with anyone that seat belts are a good idea. But, to make them a law, infringes on my rights not to wear one. I have claustrophobia issues and when I wear a seat belt, I fidget and squirm so much, I would cause an accident just trying to drive down the road. I shouldn’t have to pay a seat belt fine because of this. It should be a choice. It’s a good choice, but it should still be a choice.

  3. Katherine A. Cooper says:

    This bill is not about making a “new” law, it is about “enforcing” the law we already have. Minnesota’s seat belt law is the only traffic safety law that cannot be enforced by observation like all other laws. The legislature has already decided that it is their duty to pass laws for the public health and safety of its citizens.

    We are all paying for the 94,000 Minnesotans with traumatic brain injury, in health care and insurance costs. This bill is a public safety issue, period.

    Thank you for supporting this upgrade to Minnesota’s seat belt law. It will save 40-50 lives a year in Minnesota and hundreds from serious injury.

  4. A friend of mine was pulled over on June 6th, 2008 in Hennepin County, and when he asked the officer what he was pulled over for, the officer told him it was for failure to wear a seat belt. I was in the car with him at the time, and I told the Officer that a seat belt violation was not a primary offense in the state of Minnesota. I did my best to be polite, as cooperation with police is always the best idea, however the officer would not believe me. The officer wrote my friend a ticket for $25. However, I asked the officer if he would please write the reason he had pulled over my friend on the ticket, so it would be easier to prove that the seat belt was the sole violation. The officer said “No can do, have a nice day”. I totally understand that if my friend had crossed a line, or went one mile over the speed limit that this would have been a legit stop and ticketing, but this was not the case.

    I didn’t write this in an attempt show how a primary offense seat belt law could be used by officers to trample citizens constitutional rights. They have plenty of other primary offenses to use to pull you over. I am just really bothered that a police officer didn’t know the law. If he just would have wrote on the ticket that the reason for the stop was no seat belt it would have been easy to show that to a judge and get out of the ticket. Now, its the officers word against ours, and I know that the officer could (and likely will) fabricate another reason for the stop in court once he learns the law. For this reason, my friend will not take a day off of work to attempt to go and protect his rights.

    The primary seat belt law will save lives. But lets inform our cops that your efforts to pass the legislation have not succeeded quite yet!

  5. I am currently fighting the mandatory seatbelt law in Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Delaware v. Prouse that an officer can not stop an individual to check their papers. I have a papers, a medical exemption, which allows me to not wear a seat belt. It is unconstitutional to stop someone for not wearing a seatbelt because it is checking their papers.

  6. Katherine A Cooper – Thanks for the article… What bologna! It’s freedom to live your own life without harming others, or the Pursuit of Happiness as the constitution likes to call it. This seatbelt law is a small step towards outlawing hamburgers, coffee and being outside after darkSure it will save a few, thank goodness, but as in Proverbs, It is better to have little with righteousness than great revenues without.
    Eliminating choice is not righteous.

  7. i was pulled over one week ago for not wearing a seatbelt.. i plan to fight it because it is not constitutional.. The state is trying to take the place of my God by trying to say that they are better able to protect me then my God is able to.. this is a violation under the Bill of Rights.. Congress can not make a law respecting my religious beliefs, as long as I do not hurt anyone right to Life, Liberty and Property I am not breaking any laws! simple! I understand that this is not the thought paterns of the general public now days, because of the dumbing down that has accured over the years, however this is the way perople thought in this country when we still had a constutituion that was respected and understood!!