MACo Expresses Safety, Fiscal Concerns Over Seat Belt Bill

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel, Les Knapp, testified in support with amendments for SB 44, Seat Belts – Operation of Motor Vehicle While Inmate or Person in Custody Unrestrained – Prohibition, to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 1, 2016.

This bill would require that local law enforcement and correctional officers ensure that any person in custody is restrained by a seat belt before the officer is able to transport the individual in the motor vehicle. The bill also imposes a $10,000 civil penalty if an officer’s failure to comply results in serious physical harm or death of the individual being transported.

From the MACo testimony,

Many local law enforcement agencies and correctional departments have vehicles that are equipped with seat belts or safety restraining devices and have policies for their use. However, not all vehicles are equipped with or designed for seatbelts, and there may be situations where the use of seatbelts is not feasible for the safety of the officer or passenger.

The bill should be amended to require an officer to restrain an individual in accordance with local transport policy and should allow for exceptions in situations where seatbelt restraint is inhibited due to medical conditions or safety concerns, or alternative restraints are available.

For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.