Re­spect for the law

The Washington Times Weekly - - Off The Tracks -

The Vir­ginia po­lice ac­tion starts with the scare cam­paign, and the in­di­vid­ual tragedy that jus­ti­fies a sweep­ing law:

Area po­lice will be step­ping up en­force­ment over the next two weeks with sat­u­ra­tion pa­trols, check­points and a “zero tol­er­ance” at­ti­tude to crack down on mo­torists caught with­out a seat­belt.

Po­lice hope the ef­fort — part of the an­nual “Click It or Ticket May Mo­bi­liza­tion,” a na­tion­wide cam­paign to raise aware­ness of the ben­e­fits of buck­ling up — will make driv­ers and pas­sen­gers more con­sci­en­tious about pro­tect­ing them­selves.

“It’s so sim­ple, it only takes a few sec­onds, and yet, time and again, we see in­di­vid­u­als killed in traf­fic crashes who would have sur­vived if they had been buck­led up,” said Corinne Geller, a spokes­woman for the Vir­ginia State Po­lice.

Of the 749 peo­ple killed in Vir­ginia traf­fic ac­ci­dents last year, 60 per­cent were not wear­ing seat­belts, ac­cord­ing to Vir­ginia De­part­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles statis- tics. An un­belted 16-year-old Wil­son Me­mo­rial High School stu­dent was killed in March when her Jeep Wran­gler over­turned on a dirt road near Fishersville. [But here’s the twist]: But be­cause Vir­ginia is one of 24 states where not wear­ing a seat­belt is a sec­ondary law — mean­ing mo­torists can only be tick­eted if they are pulled over for an­other rea­son — en­forc­ing it can be dif­fi­cult, said Sgt. Monty Sell­ers of the Au­gusta County Sher­iff’s De­part­ment.

[In other words, they have to find an­other vi­o­la­tion to ticket you for in or­der to give you a sec­ond ticket just so they can save your life.]

Dur­ing the “Click It or Ticket” cam­paign, sher­iff’s deputies will be keep­ing a par­tic­u­larly close lookout for other vi­o­la­tions, such as ex­pired reg­is­tra­tion or in­spec­tion stick­ers, that will en­able them to pull over driv­ers not wear­ing seat­belts, Sell­ers said. Check­points take this tac­tic a step fur­ther, al­low­ing of­fi­cers to get a closer look at ve­hi­cles and ex­am­ine driver’s li­censes and in­sur­ance and reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­ments, Sell­ers said.

[Though the law clearly states that this is ex­actly what they can not do]:

A bill to in­sti­tute pri­mary seat­belt laws in Vir­ginia was passed by the state Se­nate this year but stalled in a House com­mit­tee. Such bills are in­tro­duced — and de­feated — on an al­most an­nual ba­sis, said Judie Stone, pres­i­dent of Ad­vo­cates for High­way and Auto Safety [. . . ].

How can Vir­ginia po­lice mount a heav­ily-pro­moted cam­paign with the sin­is­ter ti­tle of “Click It or Ticket” and openly hope to stop peo­ple not wear­ing a seat­belt when they aren’t al­lowed to stop cit­i­zens for not wear­ing a seat­belt in the first place? Well, you sim­ply stop ev­ery­body at the check­point. Then you can strictly mon­i­tor an ac­tion that you do not have the le­gal author­ity to strictly mon­i­tor in the first place.

—“ ‘Click It or Ticket’ cam­paign to be­gin,” posted May 17 at newsvir­ginian.com

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