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.
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:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- District of Columbia
States with Secondary seat belt laws include:
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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.