Florida Seat Belt Enforcement May Get Tougher

This proposal to tighten seat belt requirements has never passed in the Florida Legislature before.

In Florida, not wearing your seat belt will bring you a $30 fine for an adult, and a $60 fine for a child not properly restrained. The law applies only to the front seat passengers and to cars manufactured since 1968.

You will receive that ticket only if you are pulled over for another reason. Seat belts alone are not enough of a reason to pull someone over, which is referred to as a primary infraction.

Now a number of proposals are on the table for Florida to join the 25 other states that consider not wearing a seat belt a “primary” enforcement law- meaning an officer can pull you over and give you a ticket just for not wearing your seat belt.

On the surface, it’s tough to argue with. Everyone knows seat belts help save lives when Florida car accidents occur. Backers of primary enforcement say an estimated 124 lives will be saved every year and 1,700 serious injuries.

But there is another good reason to make the failure to buckle up a primary enforcement – about $35 million good reasons. The federal government will withhold highway dollars from Florida without the primary enforcement law.

Florida has until June 30th to comply. Two bills are in the legislature that will change the law and perhaps save some lives.

Sen. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, and a co-sponsor say, “We’ve got too many young people who are dying on our Florida highways because they’re not wearing seat belts.”

For those who fear that police can pull over people at random, remember that seat belts are already required to be worn. And without them, there is a tremendous cost, not just to the injured, but to society that picks up the cost of unpaid medical bills and higher insurance rates.

Critics say this opens the door to racial profiling and allows police to pull you over because they “thought” you did not have your seat belt on. Hill is not worried about racial profiling because young black men are less likely to wear seat belts.

“Profiling is not what’s killing our kids, not wearing their seat belts is what’s killing our kids,” he says.

This is the last year those funds are available, so the Legislature is making this proposal a high priority.

If you have any questions regarding Florida seat belt laws and regulations or if you or a loved one has suffered injuries in an auto accident in Florida, contact the skilled Jacksonville personal injury attorneys at Farah and Farah.

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