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
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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
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
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.