The state Senate voted this week to make North Dakota’s seat belt law “primary enforcement,” though the legislation still must pass the House.
Primary enforcement means a driver can be stopped for not buckling up. The law currently is “secondary enforcement,” in that a motorist has to be stopped for another violation.
"What's the value of this bill if it doesn't pass today? Nothing," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Brad Bekkedahl, R-Williston. "What's the value of this bill if it does pass? To the family planning a welcome home for an accident survivor who wore a seat belt, instead of planning a funeral, priceless."
Sen. Mike Dwyer, R-Bismarck, told the Senate that law enforcement officers are pleading with the Legislature to pass the bill, which has been rejected in previous sessions.
"This is not about writing tickets," Dwyer said. "But they know, and we all know, that if we pass this bill, people will increase their use of seat belts, and it will save lives."
Senate Bill 2121 requires everyone in a vehicle to wear seat belts. The fine for violating the law would be $50. Current law requires only front-seat passengers to be buckled up.
The vote was 28 to 18 in favor of the bill, Prairie Public reported. No one spoke against it on the Senate floor.
Thirty-four states already have a primary enforcement seat belt law, The Associated Press reported.