March 15, 2011

Bill to make seatbelt law less enforceable advances

From staff and news service reports

AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate voted 18-17 this morning in support of a bill to change the failure to wear a seatbelt from a primary to a secondary offense.

Related Documents

Read full text of L.D.64

Sen. Ron Collins, R-Wells, said he sponsored the bill because he's a "libertarian at heart." He noted that he does wear his seatbelt, but felt police should no longer have the power to pull over drivers for failing to be belted.

Others, including former Secretary of State Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, said it would send a bad message to teens across the state to change the law to a secondary offense.

He said it will also cost the state money, an estimated $1.2 million over the next two years, if the law is changed.

"Let's not unravel a good system," he said.

The bill, L.D.64, faces another Senate vote before it heads to the House.

Under present law, all motorists in Maine must wear a safety belt and can be fined $50 for the first offense and $125 for the second offense.

This afternoon, the Transportation Committee takes up two other traffic-safety proposals, which would outlaw the use of hand-held cellular phones or other electronic devices while driving, and ban texting while driving.

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