After several fatal accidents in western Montana over the past weeks, Montana law enforcement authorities are reminding drivers about state seat belt statutes.

Missoula Police Department Public Information Officer Travis Welsh quoted state law in the Montana Seat Belt Use Act.

"Right here in Montana Code Annotated 61 9 420, child safety restraint systems," Welsh began. "It says, 'If a child under six years of age and weighing less than 60 pounds is a passenger in a motor vehicle, that motor vehicle must be equipped with one child safety restraint for each child in the vehicle, and each child must be properly restrained. The child safety restraint must be appropriate for the height and weight of the child as indicated by manufacturers standards'."

While it is true that failure to use a seat belt is a secondary offense, meaning the driver cannot be pulled over simply for failure to use a seat belt, Welsh says,there is a caveat.

"That's correct," he continued. "In fact, under the seat belt statute, which is 61 13 103, it says 'a department or agent may not require a driver who may be in violation of this section to stop, EXCEPT if a person in the vehicle who is under six years of age and weighing less than 60 pounds is not properly restrained under the previous statute.' That means it becomes a primary offense, if a child meets that criteria."

Tomorrow..the Montana Highway Patrol provides the numbers on fatal accidents statewide, and how SEAT BELTS SAVE LIVES.


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