Click-It or Ticket: For Real This Time

We have this annual campaign in Florida (Interestingly enough, in JUNE). Apparently, cops are supposed to be looking for people who aren’t buckled up to give them a ticket.

For the past few months, many of the morning talk shows on the radio have been discussing this at length. To be honest, I always thought that it was the law. Apparently, the only way to get ticketed for a seat belt in Florida is after you’ve been pulled over for another infraction. Interesting.

So now, the police can pull you over if they suspect you are not using your seat belt. The State’s sophisticated research has indicated that the new law will save over 100 lives in the course of a year, not to mention many more serious injuries. This, therefore, reduces healthcare costs that state and local governments have to fork over in serious and fatal accidents.

I’m sure that the fine at 30 dollars a pop goes to a good cause… or perhaps just to Uncle Sam.

In the first day of enforcement, there were over 200 reported citations in the Bay Area. 200!

TAMPA – Buckle up or pay the consequences.

More than 200 motorists found that out the hard way today.

Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies, out on patrol to enforce Florida’s new enhanced seat belt law, wrote 203 tickets by the end of Operation Belts or El$e,” Deputy Larry McKinnon said.

Some who received tickets were angry; others were blasé or thankful, Cpl. Ed Raburn said.

Deputies have been working for about a month to alert people of the new primary seat belt law. But many haven’t paid attention, Raburn said.

“I hope at least these people that we touch this morning will get the message,” he said during the law enforcement operation. “As it hits you in the pocketbook, it tends to make more of an impact.”

The new law lets law enforcement officers pull over vehicles if they see a driver or front-seat passenger not wearing a seat belt. Before today, authorities could hand out a seat belt citation only if motorists were stopped for another moving violation.

The law says people have to wear seat belts the way they are intended to be worn. If a person has a belt that goes over the lap and shoulder but isn’t wearing it properly, he can get a ticket, too, Raburn said.

Passengers younger than 18 also must wear seat belts.

Those exempt from getting citations include people certified by doctors as having medical conditions that cause the use of seat belts to be inappropriate or dangerous.

The cost for a seat belt violation is $30, but court fees could push that total to between $93 and $119, depending on the county. The fines are $101 in Hillsborough County.

One beltless driver ticketed today, Bob Clarke, called it an intrusion into his personal life and ability to make a decision.

But another man ticketed, Bilal Bell, said he understands why investigators are stopping people for not wearing seat belts.

“If it’s the law, it’s the law,” he said. “No deviation from it.”

During today’s operation at the intersection, deputies made one arrest. After pulling 27-year-old Norma Garza over for driving without a seat belt, they charged her with giving a false name to law enforcement and driving with a suspended license.

Deputies during the operation also issued tickets for improper window tinting and failing to show proof of insurance.

In Hillsborough County, more than 160 people didn’t wear a seat belt and died in crashes since 2004, deputies say.

Gov. Charlie Crist signed the Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law last month. It is named for two teenage girls killed in accidents while not wearing seat belts.

Marchetti, a Durant High School junior, died after being ejected from a car in a crash near Tampa three years ago.

Slosberg died in a South Florida crash 13 years ago.

Florida joins 26 states that have laws for primary enforcement of safety belts.

Wisconsin recently became the 30th state to enact a primary seat belt law, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The law is expected to bring Florida millions of dollars in federal funds for statewide transportation projects and save millions more in health costs.

Similar legislation failed for nearly two decades in Florida, in part because of concerns by some minority lawmakers who feared the tougher legislation could lead to increased racial profiling by police.

(TBO.COM – Josh Poltilove)

Let the arguments begin. Is this law another swipe at civil liberties as many are claiming? Others have understood it to be a government conspiracy to raise more money. Also, is this possibly setting up the State for lawsuits? Some of the objectors to the new law state that a seat belt can actually be hazardous in certain situations. I’ve read about cases where restraints caused a more serious injury, not to mention pretty much assuring a drowning death if a vehicle becomes submerged.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. Like I said before, I thought it was the law in the first place. I don’t like the arguments where people say it infringes upon our free will as motorists. The action of not using the seat belt endangers one’s self. Do we really need to have a law dictating what we can or cannot do to ourselves? The counter argument is that driving is a privilege, not a right, and therefore subject to the overall supervision of higher authorities. Yada Yada Yada.

But really, only 30 dollars? That’s not much of a deterrent at all! Thus the conspiracy that it’s just a government ploy for more of our money! Just enough to be a slight annoyance… but not enough to deter the restraint REBEL! Take your chances wisely.

So, just as a friendly warning/reminder from The Heap to all in the state of Florida, and to those planning on coming down for summer vacation- use your seat belts!