Archive for Monday, June 27, 2011

New state law removes cities’ ability to set their own fines for seat belt violations

June 27, 2011


Click it or Ticket soon will have a little less bite in Lawrence and other cities across the state.

A new state law that takes effect Friday will require all Kansas cities to charge a $10 fine for failure to wear a seat belt and also removes a city’s ability to charge court costs to prosecute the violation.

In Lawrence, the change will be significant. Currently, the city charges a $40 fine and has the ability to add another $60 in court costs — although the city has not made a practice of charging the court costs.

Opponents of the law change say the result also will be significant: Fewer cities will properly enforce the seat belt law.

“I think that is exactly what will happen, and I think that is exactly what the Legislature’s intent was when it passed this law,” said Kimberly Winn, deputy director for the League of Kansas Municipalities, which lobbied against the bill.

In 2010, the state passed a new seat belt law that allowed motorists to be pulled over and ticketed for not wearing a seat belt. Previously, law enforcement officers couldn’t pull a motorists over solely for a seat belt violation. That 2010 law limited the fine to $5, but the law was written in a way that cities could set their own fines.

Winn estimated at least 20 to 25 of the state’s largest cities took advantage of that ability and set fines that were significantly higher than the $5 state level.

But Winn argues that a majority of legislators weren’t enthusiastic about changing the state’s seat belt law in 2010. They did so because it made the state eligible for federal transportation grants that ended up totaling a little more than $11 million. Now, some seat belt advocates argue the state is trying to minimize the law.

“Ten dollars is certainly less than a parking infraction in many cities,” said Judy Stone, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “It sounds like a bit of retaliation of sorts.”

A state legislator who supported the change, however, said it was made out of fairness. Rep. Vince Wetta, D-Wellington, said the 2010 law never would have passed the Legislature if lawmakers thought some cities could charge nearly $100 for a ticket.

“Some local entities were using this as a money-making machine,” Wetta said.

In 2010, Lawrence issued 1,293 tickets for seat belt violations, making it the third-most cited traffic offense, behind speeding and lack of insurance.

Wetta said there is a strong sentiment in the state that people shouldn’t be made to wear a seat belt.

“I definitely have heard from people who say we are taking people’s rights away from them,” Wetta said. “They believe they ought to have the right to not wear a seat belt. In a way, I believe the same thing, but when you look at the statistics about the lives seat belts save, they’re hard to argue with.”

Wetta said he thinks even a $10 fine, combined with education, will be enough to encourage motorists to use seat belts.

Lawrence leaders already have changed their codes to lower the fines on July 1.

“We weren’t really happy about it,” said Toni Wheeler, the city’s director of legal services. “We thought that if it was an infraction, we should be able to decide on an appropriate penalty.”

Wheeler said she doubts that the $10 fee will cover the city’s actual costs to issue the ticket and run it through the Municipal Court system. But she said the city does not have any plans to reduce enforcement of the law.


kantubek 6 years, 12 months ago

“I definitely have heard from people who say we are taking people’s rights away from them"

If you happen to be someone against seat belt laws because they are paternalistic, ask yourself whether or not the same logic should apply to other laws of the same nature. A good example would be drug laws that take away an individual's autonomy over their own person.


chzypoof1 6 years, 11 months ago

Yes, the same logic should apply to what you do to YOUR body. Isn't that the abortion argument? So If I don't wear a seatbelt, do drugs, eat french fries, etc...that should be my CHOICE. Isn't that the point of freedom? Pretty tired of the nanny government telling us what to do with our daily lives. If you are not endangering someone else with your choice, they should stay out of it. If you are, then you should be prosecuted. Not wearing a seat belt hurts no one but yourself.

gccs14r 6 years, 11 months ago

" Not wearing a seat belt hurts no one but yourself."

Not true. With the belts holding you in place, you can concentrate on driving, rather than on trying to hold yourself in the seat. The difference can prevent accidents.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 11 months ago

I think gravity seems to hold me in place in my seat. Unless I emulate some of the other idiots on the road with their crazy stupid driving habits.

gccs14r 6 years, 11 months ago

I think you don't realize how much effort you expend keeping yourself in place while driving, unless you're one of those folks who putters around at 6 mph causing traffic jams wherever you go.

gr 6 years, 11 months ago

If you're suggesting that during an accident, one would be concentrating on holding themselves in the seat rather than driving, how does that work out? But, do you really believe someone in an accident is consciously trying to hold themselves in the seat? I think that's just a fanciful thought.

gccs14r 6 years, 11 months ago

You might try to hang on in an accident, but if your only restraint is your hands, you won't stay in place for long. Meanwhile, you're not doing any driving, and sure aren't when you end up in a different seat or outside of the vehicle.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 11 months ago

Freedom of choice is one side of the coin. The other side is responsibility. You can't have one without the other. So if you're injured, you pay. If you can't pay, say your insurance has limits, then you get kicked out of the hospital (care facility) and left to die. Same with drugs, you want to do them, fine. But treatment, that's on you. And if you contract a disease, we leave you to die. Homelessness that frequently follows drug addiction, too bad. And if it's cold, very cold, then you die.
I just hope that those who advocate for freedom remember that responsibility and freedom are joined and the hip. You can't have one without the other. Choose wisely.

gr 6 years, 11 months ago

So would you go with anything that causes disease or otherwise use services should be mandated against? I can think of many things people do which I don't like and increase insurance rates among other factors which I would like nanny gomn't to make them stop.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 11 months ago

I would say that if doing something (or not doing something) is likely to cause disease/injury/negative consequences AND you are advocating for the freedom to engage in that behavior AND you then do indeed engage in that behavior, THEN you should be responsible for the consequences. We all know certain actions make it more likely that there will be negative consequences. Drug use, cigarettes, not wearing seat belts, etc. If you are advocating for the right to engage in those activities, then you should be responsible for the negative consequences. Freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 11 months ago

Cute, and more correct than most people think. If you vote for say a Bush, you own his record, good, bad and indifferent. The same is true with Obama. The problem many people have is when you generally believe in one person's ideas, but differ on some very important positions. As an example, I would never vote for a president that did not support the right of gays to marry. Whether Democrat or Republican, no major party nominee has come out in support of gays' marrying. Therefore, I choose not to vote for either. Each person has values they will compromise and others they will not. That's mine, or at least one of mine. I own my contrarian view. I own the fact that I may be throwing away my vote. I own those things. If you voted for Bush, you own his record. If you voted Obama, you own his. Obviously, I voted for neither Bush nor Brownback.

Liberty275 6 years, 11 months ago


Requiring people to wear seat belts is an unnecessary law that should not only be limited as has been done, but should have never been passed to begin with.

All drugs should be legalized for adult consumption.

Lawrence_Pilot 6 years, 12 months ago

Or abortion laws that restrict a womans right to privacy.

Lawrence_Pilot 6 years, 12 months ago

Such a redneck, embarrassing state.

Seat belts save lives, period. Ask any cop if he wears his seatbelt and why.

This place gets more embarrassing every time the legislature convenes. No wonder all of my kids left after graduation and only return to visit. And i intend to follow as soon as i retire.

WHY 6 years, 12 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Brock Masters 6 years, 11 months ago

Lots of things lives, but we don't rely on the government to mandate their use. If an adult chooses not to wear their seat belt then so be it.

I wear my all the time, not because of the law, but because it makes sense.

Keep the government out of my personal life and decisions.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

As long as they don't affect others negatively, sure.

What if you're a parent, and choose not to wear your seat belt, and thus die in a crash, leaving your children without one parent?

Or, you're a driver without a seat belt who loses control of their vehicle in a crash because of it, thus making the accident worse for others?


Brock Masters 6 years, 11 months ago

You can always what if something. For example, what if you are wearing a seat belt and go into a pond and the seat belt release mechansim malfunctions?

If you choose not to wear a seat belt and die leaving your childrent without one parent then I guess you weren't a good parent and the other parent will have to do double duty. Let's what if this one. What if you eat fatty foods and die of a heart attack and leave your children without one parent? Let's ban fatty foods.

Even with seat belts people die so let's require helmets. No disputing that less people would die if they wore helmets while driving. Point is people take risks everday that negatively impact them and their families. It is not government's role to protect people from their own stupidity.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

I agree with your last sentence.

But, your examples and mine are not examples of somebody hurting themselves - they're examples of hurting others.

gr 6 years, 11 months ago

Uh, don't follow. Both of your examples are the same. They both involve self and others if you stretch it. Both are the same. Other, than maybe fred's might have hit on something you want to do....

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago


I take great care with my health.

And, I don't have children.

WHY 6 years, 12 months ago

Paid my first 5 dollar ticket a few weeks ago. Now it will cost me 10 dollars to be comfortable while driving. It is getting tough to keep up with inflation on basic necessities.

Trobs 6 years, 11 months ago

You must be wearing it wrong to cause discomfort, it goes around you.

tomatogrower 6 years, 11 months ago

Maybe he's eaten too much fast food and can't get the belt around him.

WHY 6 years, 11 months ago

Got it. We fat men hate belts of all types.

WHY 6 years, 11 months ago

Good jokes everyone. I hope the LJW gestapo doesn't delete yours like they did mine. A world where we can not mock others is a world I do not wish to live in.

drnater 6 years, 11 months ago

Funny my seatbelt ticket was $40, and I,was a passenger. While I was slightly innebrebriated at the time, (woohoo for dd's!) I lost and forgot about the ticket. Now, I dont have a license, and have to pay $300 to get it back. Moral of the story, f seatbelt tickets! Lol

Trobs 6 years, 11 months ago

Blame your DD for not buckling you in

Robert Holmes 6 years, 11 months ago

The state mandated the law now sets a joke of a fine. The legislature should have set a cap on the fine but not court costs and the cap should have been high. If you want drivers to wear seatbelts then make the penalty hurt, but then again the state raised the speed limit on a lot of 4 lane highways to 75 so people can practically drive 80 and be legal. We've got a bright group running our state right now from jobs to speed limits to education.

Joe Hyde 6 years, 11 months ago

Many operators take great pride in "protecting their personal liberties" by not wearing a seatbelt. They might as well rid their vehicles of some other irritating safety equipment before getting behind the wheel next time.

Break out both headlights with a hammer, rip off the windshield wipers and rearview mirrors, then disable the passenger compartment air bags. While you're at it, ask a tire dealer if they've got lying around four bald tires with cracked sidewall bulges that they can mount on your wheels. After those worn-out tires get mounted, have the mechanic bleed the hydraulic fluid out of your brake lines. (Who needs brakes when the windshield and steering wheel are perfectly capable of stopping your body's forward momentum if you crash into anything.)

And there you go: the perfect "Bubba Be Free Death Ride".

Trobs 6 years, 11 months ago

I suggest this post be removed for making sense

somedude20 6 years, 11 months ago

So the state gives a sip about us being safe in a car by creating a seatbelt law but motorcycle riders do NOT have to wear a helmet while riding unless that rider is under 18? Huh! That is weird as I think we all agree that helmets save lives (have a friend who is still around because of one) much like seatbelts, so why not force them to be safer as well?

somedude20 6 years, 11 months ago

I know you are a grand wizard but your wizard logic is way wrong: "When California's helmet use law covering all riders took effect on January 1, 1992 helmet use jumped to 99 percent from about 50 percent before the law,15 and the number of motorcyclist fatalities decreased 37 percent.16 "

somedude20 6 years, 11 months ago

"Nebraska reinstated a helmet law on January 1, 1989, after repealing an earlier law in 1977. The state then saw a 22 percent reduction in serious head injuries among motorcyclists" "Kentucky repealed its universal helmet law in 1998, followed by Louisiana in 1999. These actions resulted in lower helmet use, and quickly increased motorcyclist deaths in these states by 50 percent and 100 percent, respectively."

gr 6 years, 11 months ago

Motorcycle riders should wear seatbelts, too!

somedude20 6 years, 11 months ago

So again, since my question was not answered, why is wearing a helmet not a law if seatbelts are? I mean if this is all in the name of safety!

tomatogrower 6 years, 11 months ago

I think people should be able to choose not to wear their seat belts, but first they must sign a waiver that if they are seriously injured in an accident, they will pay for all medical bills out of pocket, and not apply for disability. Also, if they are driving and are thrown around the car, instead of being secured at the wheel to try and regain control, and a passenger is hurt or killed, they face criminal charges. And don't ask me for a ride anywhere, because anyone riding in my car has to wear a seatbelt. Either that or they walk.

gr 6 years, 11 months ago

And if someone smokes and gets cancer or lung disease or other disease they will pay for all medical bills out of pocket, and not apply for disability.

And if someone eats the stuff like most people do and gets heart disease they will pay for all medical bills, and their monthly drug fix, out of pocket, and not apply for disability nor get a handicap sticker.

And if someone eats the stuff like most people do and puts on large poundage they will pay extra (by the pound) to fly rather than slim people being charged, to subsidize them, for baggage which with them together makes up only a fraction of what others are carrying in their person.

And if someone drinks and gets liver disease they will pay for all medical bills out of pocket, and not apply for disability.

And if someone plays sports and gets injured they will pay for all medical bills out of pocket, and not apply for disability.

Need any more?

Trobs 6 years, 11 months ago

Try getting in a wreck without a seat belt. Insurance companies loooooooove that

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 11 months ago

Hey, try this! Get yourself a a pair of those wide suspenders at the hardware store, you know, the kind that you use to hold your pants up. They will show up over your shoulder and the cop will see the suspenders and think they are the seat belt. Neat, huh?? Works for me.

Liberty275 6 years, 11 months ago

"That's fine. If you want to kill yourself by not wearing a seat belt, go right ahead"

Thank you.

"Look at the other drivers around you texting, talking, reading, eating. They are the ones that will crash you."

I look at every car around me. If I see anything that signals danger, I'll take evasive action before the other driver even knows he's in trouble.

beatrice 6 years, 11 months ago

I think tomatogrower is onto something with his waiver idea.

To save the taxpayers of Kansas some money, the legislature should pass a law that says it is illegal to automatically supply medical insurance for people who are injured in auto accidents while not wearing a seat belt. The non-seatbelt people can purchase separate insurance to cover such accidents.

Why should everyone else pay for the bad decisions of a few?

After all, one of those non-seatbelt wearing people could be a pregnant woman, and an accident might cause a miscarriage. Really, charging people to pay for their own non-seatbelt insurance is a deterent intended to protect all the unborn babies out there. It is to protect the unborn babies and if you don't agree you are with the baby killers. Charge extra and charge separately. It is for the babies!

beatrice 6 years, 11 months ago

I did see it. It is hardly a satirical connection to the abortion insurance law recently passed. My comment clearly is. Guess you didn't catch it.

oldbaldguy 6 years, 11 months ago

The seatbelt law was passed so the state could $11,000,000 from the Feds last year. Most cops I know do not wear the seatbelt. They may now. Not requiring motorcycle rider helmets but requiring seatbelt wear is plain silly. I wear a seatbelt.

ivalueamerica 6 years, 11 months ago

So the party of states rights does not believe in municipality rights?

gccs14r 6 years, 11 months ago

Just in case you wonder what can happen without a seatbelt, here's a little clip from 1970 or so showing some examples. I think it's better to remain not only in the vehicle, but also in my seat. (I turn the audio off.)

Liberty275 6 years, 11 months ago

You people don't get it. I won't disagree seat belts save lives in accidents, but by mandating their use the state continues to change us from people that think about our own safety into people that are just doing what the government says to do. If I'm driving where speeds are 45 or less, I'll risk not wearing a seat belt. On the interstate or on k10, I'll wear my seat belt all the time. Then there are other times I'll wear the seat belt, wear a helmet, have a fire extinguisher beside me and make sure nothing is loose in the car.

It's all about choice and not loosing the ability to choose the means and necessity of protecting one's self. I want the responsibility of making the decision based on circumstance and not based on arbitrary rules.

ivalueamerica 6 years, 11 months ago

but it is is a public matter because others driving without seatbelts increases my cost of living.

Insurance rates go up, unpaid hospital bills go up, hence medical costs. Victims use more SSDI, or their survivors do, all raising my tax burden. I have not seen in the Constitution where you have the right to increase my cost of living. It is the same reason I support limiting fatty foods and having public funded drug rehab programs, because they all mitigate public expenses.

ivalueamerica 6 years, 11 months ago

hysterical much? Letting a baby starve is not the answer, It is like the woman in Texas who freaked out that the state was providing vaccinations to orphaned illegal immigrants..what the hell is a 6 year old to do, create their own vaccines? Sheesh

Or you want to steralize them? Bet you would sing a different tune if they started castrating the men who got them pregnant.

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