Seatbelt Law to Become Primary in Washington State
On June 20, Washington will join 17 other states and the District of Columbia in making a violation of seatbelt laws a primary offense. With this measure in place, law enforcement officials can pull a vehicle over if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety belt, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission said.
In the past, seatbelt violations could only be enforced if a driver had been stopped for some other violation. Until now, the lack of seatbelt use, alone, did not justify a law enforcement stop. Under the new legislation, the driver will be cited for all vehicle occupants under the age of 16, and any unbuckled passengers over 16 will receive their own $86 tickets, the Commission said.
Since the initiation of the "Click It or Ticket" campaign in early May to increase driver safety, the state has already seen increased seatbelt use from 82 to 88.5 percent, and the committee expects that number to jump once penalties are more widely enforced.