Seat belt law targeted for repeal

Joseph Turner; The News Tribune

Olympia, WA - 1/30/03 - The Washington Seatbelt Coalition plans to file an initiative today that would prohibit police officers from ticketing motorists for not wearing seat belts - unless the driver also has committed another traffic infraction.

Roy Ruffino of Lacey, president of the coalition, said the group wants to reinstate the law as it existed before June 13, 2002. Before that date, failure to wear a seat belt was considered a secondary infraction - that is, police could cite the motorist for a seat belt violation only if the motorist was pulled over for some other traffic infraction or crime.

On June 13, failure to wear a seat belt became a primary offense, thanks to a law the Legislature approved earlier last year.

"There's no reason to have that," Ruffino said. "It almost smacks of getting more revenue."

The citation carries an $86 fine.

Since the new seat belt law took effect, the Washington State Patrol and other law officers have stepped up enforcement and have written thousands of citations. They credit the change in the law with improving seat belt usage from 82 percent of motorists to as high as 94 percent.

Ruffino, who has worked as a paid signature-gatherer on other ballot measures, said his group is trying to get the measure on the November ballot. They have until July 3 to collect 197,734 signatures.

The group can be reached at 360-534-4396, or by email at

Joseph Turner:253-597-8436


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