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Q

Are you able to be pulled over for not having a seat belt on and that is your only offense or do the police need another cause?


A

There are many states where police are able to pull you over only due to you not wearing a seat belt due to this type of violation being a primary offense.

Seat belt laws are divided into two categories - primary and secondary. Primary seat belt laws allow law enforcement officers to ticket a driver for not wearing a seat belt, without any other traffic offense taking place. Secondary seat belt laws state that law enforcement officers may issue a ticket for not wearing a seat belt only when there is another citable traffic infraction.

So if in your state the seat belt law is a primary offense this means that police can pull you over for this violation of law on its own. If in your state a seat belt violation is instead a secondary offense then police must make a traffic stop for a primary traffic offense, such as speeding, to ticket you for a seat belt offense. 

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Thirty (30) states and the District of Columbia have primary seat belt laws. Nineteen (19) states has secondary laws and New Hampshire currently does not have in effect either a primary or a secondary seat belt law for adults, although the state does have a primary child passenger safety law that covers children under 18. 

State that have primary seat belt laws include:

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arkansas
  4. California
  5. Connecticut
  6. Delaware
  7. Florida
  8. Georgia
  9. Hawaii
  10. Illinois
  11. Indiana
  12. Iowa
  13. Kentucky
  14. Louisiana
  15. Maine
  16. Maryland
  17. Michigan
  18. Minnesota
  19. Mississippi
  20. New Jersey
  21. New Mexico
  22. New York
  23. North Carolina
  24. Oklahoma
  25. Oregon
  26. South Carolina
  27. Tennessee
  28. Texas
  29. Washington
  30. Wisconsin
  31. District of Columbia

States with Secondary seat belt laws include:

  1. Arizona
  2. Colorado
  3. Idaho
  4. Kansas
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Missouri
  7. Montana
  8. Nebraska
  9. Nevada
  10. North Dakota
  11. Ohio
  12. Pennsylvania
  13. Rhode Island
  14. South Dakota
  15. Utah
  16. Vermont
  17. Virginia
  18. West Virginia
  19. Wyoming

It depends upon what state you are in and their laws as to if you can be pulled over and cited for not wearing your seat belt without being stopped for any other traffic violation. If you are stopped for not wearing a seat belt the penalty is typically a fine and in some states you may also be assigned points by the Department of Motor Vehicles that go on your driving record.


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4 Responses to "Are you able to be pulled over for not having a seat belt on and that is your only offense or do the police need another cause?"
  1. Blitz, s

    Could you be cited for no seat belt if you have exited the vehicle (vehicle off) and then the officer arrives and detains you?

      Reply»  
  2. Visitor

    My husband and I were pulled over in Little River, SC recently for not wearing our seat belts. We had been having a very bad week, his grand-father who had raised him had died and we had spent several days with him in the hospital and dealing with saddened relatives and were virtually exhausted. That day we were on the way to his funeral after only getting 3 hours of sleep, we had out 3 year0old with us. We had just pulled out from the gas station when less than a minute later there were blue lights behind us. We pulled over and he said it was because we weren't wearing our seat belts. Then he noticed our daughter, who had been lying down asleep on the back seat, sit up and he ticketed us for her not being in a car seat. We explained the situation and lack of sleep to him (and the fact that she is too tall for a car seat and normally sits in her booster; she is really tall for her age) but he ticketed us anyway. Three tickets total costing us more than $200. It didn't matter to him that we were on our way to a funeral and we wound up being a half an hour late for it and seriously irking some family members.

      Reply»  
  3. Visitor

    There are too police officers that are just criminals with a badge.

      Reply»  
  4. Anonymous

    Telling me which states have this seat belt law primary vs secondary is very helpful. Recently, I was pulled over just because I was not wearing my seatbelt and got a $124 ticket. I usually wear one, but worked hard all week, then had to run my son to the library to finish homework due the day BEFORE, only to find the library computers were done (and so was ours) etc, etc...I said nothing, just took the ticket. Somedays it would be nice if you could get a little slack someplace. If the officer took one look at my face really, he might have noticed that it was already quite a hectic week. Also, while I waited, honestly, 4 police cars pulled others over too. Maybe, Puyallup police needed the money this month.

      Reply»