RICHMOND – The state Senate has passed a bill making failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense in Virginia.
The legislation passed Wednesday, 24-16. Sen. Tommy Norment voted for the bill.
Currently, failure to wear a seat belt is a secondary offense in Virginia. Police cannot ticket motorists for failing to use seat belts unless the driver has been pulled over for another violation.
Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Sen. Harry B. Blevins, R-Chesapeake, would make failure to wear a seat belt a primary traffic offense. It would apply only to front-seat occupants.
Under the bill, violators would be “subject to a civil penalty of $25 to be paid into the state treasury and credited to the Literary Fund.”
Blevins, a former high school principal, says wearing seat belts is a big safety issue. He said the bill would save the lives of motorists, especially teens.
Law enforcement, insurance and motor vehicle groups supported the bill. Opponents suggested it would give police the ability to pull over motorists without justifiable cause.
SB 9 now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration.