Lawmakers should respect attempt to enforce the law

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Wednesday, February 07, 2001

The Natchez Democrat

We’re disappointed in the Mississippi Senate’s failure to

pass tougher seat belt laws.

On Wednesday, the Senate killed a bill which would have made

failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense, meaning law enforcement

officers could stop motorists simply for not wearing a seatbelt.

Although the state requires adults to wear seat belts, failure

to use the belts is only a secondary offense, meaning officers

cannot pull over a driver simply for not wearing the seat belt.

The officer can issue a fine for failure to wear a seat belt only

in connection with another offense, such as speeding.

Thanks to the Senate’s 26-23 vote on Wednesday, the only bill

pending the

session this year that would have put teeth in the seat belt

law is dead.

And that’s a shame.

In a state with one of the nation’s deadliest highways – U.S.

61 -&160;and a governor and former governor with testimonials

to prove the life-saving value of seat belts, our Senate’s defeat

of the seat belt law on the same day Senators vote to lower the

threshold for drunk driving defies, if not logic, at least common

sense.

This is not, as some opponents argue, a personal rights issue.

The law says we must wear seat belts; creating legislation to

allow enforcement of that law is not an attempt to dictate adults’

habits. It is, instead, an attempt to enforce the law of our state.

And our lawmakers should respect that.