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South Carolina Bill Seeks to Mandate Primary Seat Belt Enforcement

March 15, 2004

Drivers caught not wearing their seat belts could be pulled over under legislation pending in the South Carolina Senate, according to an Associated Press report.

A bill sponsored by state Sen. Brad Hutto, would permit police to pull over drivers who are not buckled up. Currently, police can ticket drivers older than 17 only after stopping a vehicle for another traffic violation. However, such violations are a primary offense for anyone 17 and younger who is not belted.

Under the bill, S356, the fine would be $25 and would go up to $40 if anyone under 18 is unrestrained, the Associated Press reported.

If signed into law, the regulation could put the state in line for additional funding from the federal government. The Bush administration recently proposed an incentive program to encourage states to increase seat-belt enforcement. The program would provide grants worth $100 million a year for highway safety or construction programs to states that pass a primary seat-belt law or show a seat-belt-usage rate of at least 90 percent. Failure to do one or the other would result in a loss of up to 4 percent of federal highway funds to the state. South Carolina is one of about 30 states without a primary seat-belt law.

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