Senate approves primary seat belt law

Thursday, May 3, 2007

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Police would be able to pull over motorists solely for not wearing seat belts under a measure that won approval Wednesday in the Senate.

Under the current law, Missouri motorists must wear seat belts, but police can only ticket them if they have stopped them for another reason.

"This is a piece of legislation we know will save lives," said sponsoring Sen. Charlie Shields.

The Senate approved the "primary seat belt" proposal as an amendment to a broad transportation bill. The amendment also would repeal the requirement that most vehicles get safety inspections every two years to get relicensed. Inspections still would be needed when vehicles change owners and on those with at least 100,000 miles.

The Senate did not immediately reach a vote on the overall bill Wednesday night.

But the proposal's ultimate fate remains shaky, since it would have to return to the House, where tougher seat belt laws have received a chilly reception. Earlier this year, the House debated the idea but set it aside under stiff opposition without reaching a vote.

Shields, R-St. Joseph, hopes to gain House support for the seat belt law by tacking on the inspection repeal.

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