House Defeats Seat Belt Bill

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The ND House of Representatives defeated HB 1335 in floor session today by a vote of 40 to 52. If passed, this law would have made the failure to wear a seat belt by any front seat passenger a primary offense.

I don’t think anyone can reasonably say not wearing a seat belt is a good idea, but that is something that really should be up to the individual to decide. Besides, the real purpose of this bill was to provide law enforcement an opportunity to have one more thing they can use as an excuse to pull someone over, versus a genuine concern for public safety. If you don’t believe that, then why was mandatory use of seat belts only to apply to the front seat occupants? Won’t rear seat occupants also get hurt, die, or hurt or kill others inside the vehicle if they are not buckled up?

Some may feel that law enforcement needs another tool to pull drunks over, and a primary seat belt law was the right tool to give them. I don’t want drunks sharing the road with me either, but even cops testified (as was mentioned by Rep Dan Ruby in floor session) during the committee hearing that there is currently no shortage of legal reasons to pull someone over if they suspect a driver is under the influence.

What was particularly refreshing was the argument that appeared to win the day was — wait for it — freedom. Freedom to be stupid, granted, but freedom nonetheless. That is a great thing to see when the government seemingly grows and encroaches upon us more and more every day under the auspices of being our nanny.

While there were a few great arguments against 1335, none was better than Rep Rick Becker (R) of District 7 in Bismarck:

HB 1335 was defeated today, and for all the right reasons. It’s not needed for one, and other states have only seen a very marginal increase in seat belt usage through passing seat belt primary offense laws. Most importantly, personal freedom (even if it is freedom to be reckless with your own life) still appears to be relatively important to enough members of the House to resist the temptation of further intrusion of government in our personal lives under the excuse of them knowing what is best for us all.


LegitSlater is a contributor who focuses on features primarily pertaining to state and local government as well as political parties, but has been known to dabble in other areas. LegitSlater has also been known to pinch hit for Rob when he is out and about in his worldly travels, or attending the occasional Yankees-Twins series. LegitSlater's numerous awards include the personal satisfaction received from informing the vast readership of SAB, spurring respectful debate, and hunting the trophy sacred cows which have been otherwise deemed off limits by the traditional media, elected officials, and the political parties.

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  • opinionated

    I have the right to kill myself in anyway I see fit. It is my car, my choice, and my life, get out of it! Thanks to all you freedom lovers

    • Roy_Bean

      I suppose that now Mayor Walaker will order a mandatory evacuation of all cars that have an unbuckled front seat occupant.

  • WOOF

    Impotence on parade.
    Wolverines !

    • jl

      Yes, we noticed that about you.

  • MaX


  • RCND

    The renaissance of liberty in Bismarck? One can only hope. PS Becker for Governor in ’16.

  • lynnbob

    congrats to Rep Rick Becker. About time somebody ball up and start actually representing the people!!

    • yy4u2

      Yes! Here, here, Doctor and Representative Becker!

  • The Fighting Czech

    Until its mandatory that the useless seatbelts they put in cars these days, are replaced with 5 point harnesses. and its mandated that all items in the Cabin MUST be secured, and Helmets (with a neck supports of course) are required. These current laws are less about “concern” about safety, and more about training their “stupid” Monkeys to do what they are told.

  • headward

    The seat belt law is all about revenue.

    • camsaure

      And control. How about that women highway patrol trooper in Utah who was finally suspended for issuing too many bogus DUI’s since 2002. Seems she wanted to arrest everyone whether they had 0 alcohol or not.

      • headward

        Sounds like she had an agenda. I hope that there was civil and criminal trial for her. Stuff like that ruins lives.

  • Kelly Jo

    Driving a car is not a right….it’s a privilege . It’s not a nanny state when we have speed limits or we are told what side of the road to drive on. Personal freedom has nothing to do with driving a car, it’ a privilege so that argument is null. As far as law enforcement, one does not speak for all. Ask the highway patrol , the agency that has most contact with fatalities , about why they wanted this to be a primary offense. Maybe they are tired of scraping people up off the road and then contacting their loved ones. Maybe it has nothing to do with another reason to pull people over. Maybe there is a genuine concern for people lives……and since it’s a privledge and not a right to drive a car on state roads…it’s a shame this did not pass. You do have every right to drive on your own property, with no seatbelt, drunk even and no one says boo. That is your right. Take it on a public road and it’s a privilege subject to laws.

    • Tim Heise


    • RCND

      They wanted it as a primary offense to have more reasons to pull people over (even though they have plenty now) and generate revenue. The examples you cite may impact other drivers on the road. Seat belt usage does not except by extreme stretches of the imagination.

      I would be more apt to buy your argument if, as the article above says, the requirement applied to all vehicle occupants. It would not have. Why not add helmets as a requirement too? I therefore reject this is about saving lives

      • Kelly Jo

        if they thought it would pass , I bet they would love to have the law apply to all passengers, and the helmets as well. Maybe the person who introduced it claims law enforcment just wants more reason to pull people over, but actual law enforcement really want to save lives.

        • yy4u2

          Why aren’t school buses loaded with five point harnessing for all the children? So do we regulate what people eat when they are out of their homes? What shoes they wear for the best protection of their joints? Maybe we need to make all cars more visible to help prevent people from running into each other. And if we want to be safe, why don’t we require that everyone use the best tires available? Change them when we deem it necessary? And on and on and on and on like all good statists feel.

          Firemen and women, EMTs and Paramedics want to save peoples’ lives. Law enforcement wants the latest greatest gadget to knock a door down or eve’s drop on people along with more laws to hammer people to the wall. LE are not the ones picking up the pieces out of the ditch or off the highway or even cutting a vehicle apart to remove the body. I’ve seen this first hand for around 15 years.
          Accidents happen. Why don’t we just take it to it’s logical conclusion and outlaw vehicles? We as a society can never legislate stupidity out of people. However, RINOs or progressives are more than happy to strip our personal freedoms one by one.

        • RCND

          That’s nice of them to be concerned for my well being, but I and pretty much everyone else can figure out wearing a seat belt is a good idea on our own. Maybe you need a law to convince you, but most others don’t. Decisions have consequences. If someone doesn’t wear their belt they will pay the price in an accident

        • ec99

          Oh please, in ND the primary purpose of the police is to fill coffers whith traffic fine money. Ticket quotas are NOT an urban legend.

        • The fighting Czech

          law enforcement really want to save lives.

          Your funny!!!!

    • opinionated

      And I have the right to drive drunk and unbelted and can simply pay the fines, also

      • ec99

        False analogy. Driving drunk puts others in danger…driving without a seatbelt means only your life.

    • Lianne

      No one is stopping all the passengers from using the seat belts now. How would anyone know if the adults in the back seat(s) are belted? Do you need a law to shut your dorr before you take off? No. common sense tells you to shut the door.

    • Thresherman

      Fine, then instead of seat belts lets require five point harnesses, full face helmets and fire suits. Ban not only texting, but Bluetooth devices, Ipods, CDs, radios and any other potential distractions. Because hey, if it saves one life it worth it right? And driving is not a right, it is a privilege, so there really is no limit to what people must put up with in the name of safety is there?

      But if you think that your limits are reasonable but mine are not, please explain why.

      • Onslaught1066

        Ban the passenger as well.

        Car pools are engines of mass destruction.

        • Thresherman

          Some people will never grasp the true meaning of Jefferson’s words; “I prefer dangerous freedom to safe slavery.”

    • Bruce Hingst

      Its people like you that will wake up one day and wonder what happened to all your freedoms….I dont need the gov protecting me from me……and if they have to scrape my body off the highway,,,hell with them its their job…wow what a whining liberal

    • zdavid53

      Driving a car is not a right…it’s a privilege is something cute made up not by the poeple. Pursuit of happiness cannot take place these days without a car. The highways are public property so they can be regulated. Every pendulum swings too far at times, and this would have been to far

  • Don Quixote

    It is rather amusing to see all the “bogus” arguments against the seatbelt law. All emotion with little if any rational thinking. The facts show that wearing a seatbelt combined with the other safety features of modern cars saves lives and reduces medical costs. The fact is that we the people represented by the state can decide what the rules are for driving.
    I believe the seatbelt law should be a primary law. When I am backed by a majority of the citizens of this state, it will be. Those of you that believe that you have freedom of choice in this matter can pay your fines when caught because you don’t have a leg to stand on.

    • Lianne

      No one is stopping you from wearing a belt now. If everyone followed the letter of the law, fine. But, we know that is not the case. Tell me, why are only the front seat passengers important enough for the primary seat belt law?

    • zdavid53

      The seat belt thing has become a politicallly correct thing. Our company has had two major crashes. One involved a rollover using a seat belt which probably was part of the reason the driver walked away. The other involved a head on where the officer noted that it was lucky the driver was NOT wearing a seatbelt as he would have been 100% dead but survived. Especially for young drivers, the main point should be safe driving practices. Young drivers should not be told that wearing a seat belt greatly increases their chances of escaping injury. That is the last thing young drivers should be told. They already have this I’m immortal mentality. This has beem a great mistake and disservice to young people. young people should be told “If you are in a trafic accident, even a minor one, you may be killed or maimed for life”.

  • The Fighting Czech

    someone please help me here…..I was reading a summary report on motor vehicle crashes for 2011. in summary section its states that 70% of fatalities involved people who didnt have a seatbelt on, but in a breakdown summary in another section. its states that a 82 out of the 148 fatalities didnt have seatbelts on….using math, not emotion. thats 55%, Its not even close to the stated 70%

    actually if my math is correct, it more closely represents what ive personally seen in my experiences. seatbelts improve your odds of survival in a crash a little bit, but they sure arent the end all answer. and surely arent worthy of mandatory use under penalty of law for non use.
    I have no facts behind this, Just opinion here, But Im wondering if the Super Hero status should be given to the Air Bags. and vehicle design… Not Seatbelts….

  • zdavid53

    The last vote of the people was in a referendum stricking down a primary seat belt law. It seems like a seat belt law passed now would not stand up in court. How could the legislature overturn a vote of the people. It was in the late 80’s, but that trumped the legislature then and nothing but time has changed.