Question: What is the deal with the seat belt law? If police officers can't stop people for not wearing the seat belt, then how can they work those click it or ticket days or seat belt projects, or whatever they are, that I see advertised all the time? Did the law change?
Answer: No, the law did not change as of this writing. We can work the projects and we can write seat belt tickets for the unbelted person if we stop the person for a moving violation. If we stop someone for speeding, running a red light, failing to signal or other similar "moving violations," then we can cite them for not buckling up if they are unbuckled.
If we stop someone for a registration violation or an equipment violation, then we cannot cite for the seat belt violation. That is because seat belt violations are not a "primary offense" in Minnesota.
Currently Minnesota is one of the only states not to have a primary seat belt law. Our officers working these special projects simply focus on the drivers who are committing moving violations and are not buckled up. No, it is not easy to enforce like that, but that is our law so that is what we do.
Everyone should know that child passenger safety violations are a primary offense, meaning that we can (and do) stop drivers with unbelted children. Every year, thousands of seat belt tickets are written within our guidelines and we will continue to do our job the best we can with the laws we have. Thanks for asking.
If you have any questions for future columns concerning motor vehicle traffic in Minnesota, send your questions to: "Ask a Trooper," c/o Sgt. Curt S. Mowers, Minnesota State Patrol, P.O. Box 644, Brainerd, MN 56401. Questions are edited.
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