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What is a Seat Belt Violation?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A seat belt violation is a violation of the code requiring people in moving vehicles to wear seat belts for safety. Such codes are extremely common around the world, as wearing seat belts has been shown to radically decrease injuries in accidents. The nature of the violation varies depending on how the code is applied, but in most cases people can expect a fine, and there may be additional penalties.

In some regions, a seat belt violation is a type of moving violation and drivers can be penalized beyond a fine if they commit such violations. In regions with a points system, points will be applied to the driver's license. If a driver racks up too many points, the license can be suspended or terminated. Such systems are designed to provide an incremental system for addressing chronic safety violations. In some cases, points are only assessed if the person not wearing a seat belt was a minor, under the argument that drivers are responsible for the safety of their minor passengers, while adults are responsible for their own behavior.

In other places, it is a non-moving violation. This means only a fine can be levied. The fine in moving and non-moving violations alike is usually paid by the person who was not wearing a seat belt, rather than the driver, except in cases where minors are not wearing their seat belts. The amount of the fine varies and in some areas, signs warning about the fines for not wearing seat belts may be posted on major roadways as a reminder.

Enforcement of seat belt violation cases may be treated as a primary or secondary matter, depending on the law. When it is a primary safety violation, police officers can make a traffic stop on the basis of the seat belt violation alone. When it is secondary, there must be another reason for pulling a car over, such as speeding or having a mechanical violation like a missing light, and the people in the car can be ticketed for not wearing seat belts in addition to the primary violation.

People can challenge a charge of a seat belt violation, although it can be an uphill battle. A police officer who claims that someone was not wearing a seat belt tends to be believed. Many officers use recording devices during traffic stops and these can help resolve disputes about whether people were wearing seat belts.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a MyLawQuestions researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By RocketLanch8 — On Aug 02, 2014

I think seat belt laws are just money makers for the city government, and a violation of my civil rights. I still think wearing a seat belt is better than not wearing one, but sometimes I forget to buckle up or I just don't feel like doing it. I'm a large man, and if I'm driving my wife's car, the seat belt digs into my chest. My own car has a seat belt extender, so I'm more likely to buckle up when I'm driving it.

I just think seat belt laws are totally unenforceable, and the money raised by seat belt violations is more like an unfair tax than a legitimate fine.

By Buster29 — On Aug 01, 2014

In my state, a seat belt violation is considered secondary. I can't imagine too many police officers would want to stop their patrols in order to pull over a driver for not wearing a seat belt. They'd want to observe a more serious traffic offense first. It's never happened to me personally, but a friend said he got pulled over for running a stop sign and the officer saw him buckling his seat belt. That was enough for a second ticket.

I can understand why seat belt laws exist, but unlike some other things, like cellphone use or loud music, not wearing a seat belt only puts the driver at risk. I think if someone chooses not to wear a seat belt, he or she is assuming all risks.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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