A bill that sought to permit police to pull over drivers in Wisconsin who are not buckled up has died. The vote could end up costing the state some federal dollars.
The Assembly Committee on Transportation voted 7-6 against the bill, effectively killing it for the year.
Sponsored by Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, the bill would have created a primary law for seat-belt enforcement, meaning drivers could be pulled over for such a violation. Current Wisconsin law allows police to issue seat-belt citations to drivers only after stopping a vehicle for another traffic violation, such as speeding.
The bill - AB215 - would have increased the fine for failure to buckle up from $10 to $25. No points would have been assessed against a driver's license.
Despite lawmakers' refusal to adopt stricter rules on buckling up, Wisconsin still could be in line for additional federal dollars if it passes a primary enforcement bill by Dec. 31, 2008.
The Highway Bill approved by Congress this summer gives any state that adopts tougher seat-belt rules or achieves a belt usage rate of 85 percent one-time grant money equal to 500 percent of the highway funding they received in 2003.
Wisconsin is one of 28 states without the stricter provision. Twenty-one states allow police to pull over drivers solely for not wearing their seat belts. New Hampshire is the only state without a mandatory seat-belt law.