February 05, 2007

Buckle Up Or Else--Seat-belt Primary Offense Bill Threatens Liberty

The Rocky Mountain News sees the primary offense seatbelt law as a "pretext to stop just about anyone".

In a bad neighborhood? Driving in the early morning hours? Friday or Saturday night? With the excuse of seatbelt enforcement, police can pull a driver over on suspicion of not wearing a seatbelt.

Even those not driving under the influence or otherwise committing a legal infraction know the inconvenience and stress of being pulled over. This is not to put any blame on the officers themselves--their inconvenience will be having to enforce an extremely minor infraction while potentially ignoring more threatening behavior that truly endangers drivers and leads to motor vehicle fatalities.

Drivers should know the consequences of driving without a seatbelt. Voluntary observance should be the standard, and would not be objectionable as the secondary violation as it currently stands. Police officers should focus on those drivers who run red lights, speed, and appear to be under the influence or committing road rage.

Just ask yourself--can you tell, especially at night, if those around you are wearing a seatbelt? How would police be any more able to discern this fact, for example, in winter when everyone wears bulky coats that for all intents and purposes swallows the seatbelt behind folds of fabric.
"We're just committed to trying to save lives," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Peter Groff, D-Denver. "A tougher seat-belt law will generate more (federal) funding for the state. It's the right thing to do."
Most support comes from the Democrats, although the most vocal opponent, also a Democrat, fears police harassment and racial profiling. In most instances we would disagree, but in this particular instance the representative has a point. And does the state need additional racial profiling lawsuits--no doubt an unintended consequence of the overreaching legislation?

Cross posted at Political Avalanche

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