State Police enforce new 'Click It or Ticket' campaign - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

State Police enforce new 'Click It or Ticket' campaign

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Starting Tuesday, drivers and passengers in the front seat must "Click It or Ticket".

It's now a primary offense to not wear your seat belt while driving.  Prior to July 9, not buckling up was a secondary offense, meaning authorities could only ticket drivers and their passengers if they were pulled over for a primary offense, like speeding.

You could face a $25 fine if you're caught without one.   

Sgt. C. K. Zerkle was on the road for less than 15 minutes before he pulled over his first seat belt violator of the day.  The woman said she forgot to put it on.  A quick run of her information through the NCIC database revealed some troubling facts about her driving history.

"We ran her driver's license check all because she wasn't wearing a seat belt. Her license is suspended, so we ran into a whole other thing here. Her license is suspended, she has a dead motor vehicle inspection sticker, and she's not wearing a seat belt," he said.

Some people believe bucking up should be a personal choice.  Zerkle said he has seen multiple fatal accidents over his career.  Some of the worst ones involved people who were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

"Most of the people we see that are not wearing seat belts, there's usually an ejection with it; a partial ejection. I've seen them go through the sun roof," he said.

State Police said there has also been some confusion about the new law.  Troopers said passengers in the back seat who are 18-years of age and older are not required by law to wear a seat belt.

Also, troopers said the new law does not change the current child restraint law that requires children under 8-years-old to be in an approved child safety restraint device.  If the child is at least 4'9" tall, a safety belt can used instead, troopers said.

The West Virginia governor's Highway Safety Program has played a huge role in making the law a reality.

West Virginia joins 32 other states, plus the District of Columbia, that has made not wearing a seat belt a primary offense.  The rest of the states still have it as a secondary offense.

Many lawmakers believe the new law will help reduce the number of fatalities on the road.

The seat belt law comes a little over a week after talking on a cell phone while driving became a primary offense in the Mountain State.