How do primary enforcement seat belt laws work?

Can a police officer simply say that from his vantage point it appeared to him that the driver wasn’t buckled up?

How can cops tell that? I used to have a Pontiac Bonneville that had the belt and the buckle threaded through the seat. A cop wouldn’t see the “V shape” they talk about.

Is that PC to pull me over? Is anything now PC to pull me over with a primary seat belt law?

A friend of mine got the ticket, even though he was wearing his seat belt. He was pulled over for something else, and he took off the seat belt before the officer got to his window, to get his wallet out. To the officer, that counted as ‘not wearing a seat belt’. So, rule one - don’t take off your seat belt until AFTER the officer has witnessed that you’re wearing it.

It’s trivially easy to spot an unbuckled driver from behind most cars; you can see if the belt appears over the seat back.

I sometimes do not buckle-up if I’m just driving back roads near our home. I’ve been pulled over a couple times for minor things, and I just put my seatbelt on while pulling off the road. Nary a word has ever been said.

My husband and I got seatbelt tickets on the same day, one year apart, issued by the same officer within a block of each other. On the second occasion, I actually was wearing mine, but he said he saw me put it on, even though I was still in the parking lot. Since the car was moving, I got the ticket.
He said they are trained to notice.

It’s not hard to see. Sometimes the angle is wrong and you can’t tell. Sometimes the vehicle is configured in such a way as to make it difficult to tell. Sometimes the reflection off the windows makes it impossible to tell. If any of that happens then you just pull over one the the other hundreds of cars you see that day.

Sure, either truthfully or a lie.

Since most courts treat a traffic stop as a Terry Stop, (see Berkmer v. Mcarty) only a “reasonable suspicion” an offense has been violated is justification for an investigative detention.

Spelled it wrong, I checked.
S/B; Berkemer v. McCarty

Actually witnessing the violation is not a reasonable suspicion it is probable cause.

I will soon release my latest invention, the Seat Belt Sash! Made of seat belt material, you drape it over your shoulder when you drive, and to the cops it looks just like you are wearing a seat belt.

I kinda had to do that for a while when the buckle on my '94 Taurus broke. I looped it over the armrest until I figured out how to fix it.

True but JT asked it in a way where the officer’s view was not exactly clear, a possible violation.

Not really an original idea.

I got a ticket for a seatbelt violation once. The on-coming cop saw I wasn’t using it through my windshield and turned around and pulled me over. In New York it is a primary violation.

I have never, EVER written a cite for an adult seat belt violation. It’s my discretion and IMHO it’s a chicken shit charge and forcing grown ups to buckle up is meddling in natures master plan. The fine here is only $10 (including all court cost, etc.) which is $5 less than the lowest parking ticket fine.

And I prefer to write the ticket rather than scrape them off the street. Which I’ve done many times. Tomato tomahoto.

But that’s just a shirt. Are you going to wear that shirt every day? Wear it everywhere you go? You can just leave the Amazing Seat Belt Sash in your car. If you’re worried about it getting lost you could attach it to the car somehow.

Which is meddling with natures master plan: Eliminating idiots from the gene pool! If an adult is too stupid to buckle in so be it.

Besides, a lousy Sawbuck for a fine isn’t going to dissuade anyone from anything, and it costs more to process it than not. So neither behavior modification nor raising revenue is accomplished by enforcing it where I’m from.

None of our other fines are very cheap. I have no idea why that one is.:confused:

I understand that. I’ve heard cops refer to it as the “V shape.” You can look through the back window and see if there is a belt between the driver and his door.

But my old Bonneville had the belt bolted up through the floor and hooked through the seat. If anyone was looking at me from behind, there would not be anything seen between me and the door, even though my belt was fastened. Is that reasonable suspicion/probable cause for a stop?

I’m trying to keep it GQ. I don’t like the damn law, but it’s coming to WV this summer. I’m just trying to get a police answer on when I can be pulled over if I am driving a car like the Bonneville.

Also, the law has a medical exemption. If I have a certificate from my doctor saying that I have a medical condition that makes it dangerous to wear a seat belt (whatever in the hell that might be) then I’m exempt from the law. But does that mean that (hypothetically) I can be pulled over constantly and have to show the certificate each time?

Just an anecdote here.

I live in an apartment building that sits on the corner of two streets. Usually I don’t think to buckle my seat belt until the car gets moving 10 mph and the chime starts going off to remind me. Well one night I made a left turn to exit the parking lot and found a police roadblock at the intersection directly in front of my apartment checking all seat belts. I didn’t have mine on and I was ticketed 55 bucks.

Time from pulling out of my apartments parking spot to receiving the ticket was about 4 seconds. Needless to say i’m more diligent about bucking up now.