The South Carolina General Assembly adjourned recently, but not before finding a compromise on Senate Bill 1, a primary seat belt law that consumed much debate during this year’s six-month legislative session.
The bill, which would fine drivers $25 for not wearing their seat belts, now goes to Gov. Mark Sanford, who could veto the bill. The governor injected himself into the debate earlier in the year by making public statements about wanting a bill that would allow the question of seat belt use to be presented in injury lawsuits and that would require insurers to be notified when someone is ticketed.
As enacted, a violation of SB 1 would neither appear on an individual’s driving records nor be forwarded to insurers. The law also prohibits police from issuing tickets at traffic checkpoints. However, they will be required to track whether racial profiling played a part in who is stopped under this law.
Much of the debate on SB 1 revolved around whether drivers should be fined a flat fee for not wearing seat belts, or a smaller fee, but one that included court costs. Some legislators were reportedly adamant that a primary seat belt law represented more governmental intrusion into people’s lives.
If Gov. Sanford vetoes SB 1, lawmakers will have a chance to override his veto when they return to the capital on June 14 to consider vetoes.
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