Know Your State’s Seat Belt Laws
You are probably familiar with the “Click It or Ticket” campaign active in the majority of states across the country. Law enforcement use the catchphrase to encourage drivers and passengers to buckle up. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not only will fastening the safety belt help you avoid a ticket, but it also reduces crash-related injuries and deaths by roughly 50 percent. So how does your state handle seat belt laws?
Types of Laws
The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that there are essentially three ways to approach seat belt laws:
- Primary: This means law enforcement can issue a citation to anyone in a vehicle for not wearing a seat belt without any other traffic violation present.
- Secondary: This means that the only time law enforcement may issue a seat belt ticket is if another traffic violation has been committed.
- No enforcement: Only one state, New Hampshire, does not have any seat belt law aside from a primary child passenger safety mandate for people younger than 18.
The GHSA notes that 33 states and the District of Columbia have primary seat belt laws for people in the front seats, and in 16 of those areas, rear seats are included in primary enforcement.
In the Carolinas
South Carolina has a primary seat belt law for occupants 6 years and older in any seat of the vehicle. North Carolina has a primary seat belt law for occupants in the front seats older than 16 and a secondary law for rear seat passengers older than 16.
If you are issued a ticket for a seat belt infraction in South Carolina, the fine is $25. The same ticket in North Carolina, according to the GHSA, is $25.50 plus more than $135.50 in court costs. A secondary seat belt citation in North Carolina comes with a fine of $10.
Based on the information, law enforcement in North or South Carolina may give you a seat belt ticket regardless of if you have broken any other laws or not. If you are traveling, take a look at each state’s approach to seat belt laws should you receive a ticket. If you are in one of the 16 states with only secondary laws, a citation is only supposed to be written if you have violated another road rule, such as speeding or failing to yield.
At Nosal & Jeter, LLP our goal is to help you understand your rights when you are on the road. If you have been issued a ticket or have been arrested for a traffic violation, we can assist you with the legal proceedings to help reduce or dismiss the charges.
Source: Governor’s Highway Safety Association, “Seat Belt Laws,” November 2014