Seat Belt Law Unstrapped By House

The House of Representatives has unstrapped a plan to allow cops to pull people over for not wearing their seat belts as a primary offense.

Senate Bill 151 failed by a two-vote margin after a long and emotional debate on Thursday. It was the third year that such a proposal has failed in the legislature. Wearing a seat belt is already state law, but law enforcement can currently only cite people for not being strapped in if they pull them over for something else. Twenty-five other states, plus Washington, D.C. currently have a primary offense seat belt law, but opponents argue that such laws result in an increase in profile stops, where people of color are pulled over merely for driving while black or brown.

In addition, opponents have argued – in Colorado and around the country –  that such laws are difficult, if not impossible, to enforce, particularly at night or for people who are in cars with tinted windows. Several lawmakers have termed the proposal as government “nannyism.”

But proponents, including the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Peter Groff and Rep. Joe Rice, maintained that the law would save lives and save money. When the bill was being debated in the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee in mid-February, Sen. Chris Romer termed it a sort of “stupidity tax” on people who don’t wear their seatbelts.

Among the statistics to emerge during the debate: