Seatbelt Violations

male hand fastens the seat belt of car. Close your car seat belt while sitting inside the car before driving and take a safe journey. Closeup shot of male driver fastens seat belt.

Most drivers understand the importance of wearing a seatbelt. Still, it can be easy to forget to click a seatbelt when busy or distracted. If you’ve received a traffic ticket in Beaufort, North Carolina, for a seat belt violation, you may be tempted to pay the fees and move on. However, defending yourself against a traffic ticket can help you in the future.

The penalty for seat belt violations can be serious, especially if you already have multiple points on your driver’s license or were pulled over for other traffic-related offenses. Hiring a traffic ticket attorney can help you fight the charges or negotiate a plea bargain to minimize your penalties. Attorney Joel Hancock of the Hancock Law Firm has extensive experience defending clients facing traffic violations. When you work with him, he will work diligently to get your traffic ticket dismissed or reduced.

N.C.G.S. 20-135.2A: Everyone in a Moving Vehicle Must Wear a Seatbelt

Seat belts are not just a safety feature, they are a legal requirement under North Carolina’s traffic laws. N.C.G.S. 20-135.2A mandates that everyone inside a moving vehicle must properly fasten their seat belt when it is in motion. This law, updated in 1985, extends the seatbelt requirement to every person in the vehicle. It’s not just about following the law. It’s about taking responsibility for your safety and the safety of others on the road.

Seatbelt Requirements for Children in North Carolina

There’s no room for compromise under North Carolina’s laws regarding children’s safety. That’s why passengers under 16 must be in a secured child seat system or always use a seatbelt when the vehicle is in motion. This law is designed to provide the utmost protection for our young passengers, and it’s our responsibility as adults to ensure they are properly secured.

North Carolina’s Child Passenger Safety law requires drivers to use car seats correctly under the manufacturer’s instructions. Every car seat and booster seat has different requirements that may include a child’s height, age, and wait. Under North Carolina laws, a child can turn to face the front of the vehicle if they meet the forward-facing requirements specified by the car seat manufacturer—generally, a child over one year old and at least 20 pounds. In North Carolina, children under age five and less than 40 pounds are required to be in the backseat of the vehicle. The vehicle must have passenger-side front airbags. 

Rear-facing car seats cannot be installed in front of active airbags, such as in the passenger seat. There are some exceptions to the rule, but drivers will generally receive tickets when children under five or under 40 pounds are in the front seat. When a child reaches the age of eight or weighs 80 pounds or more, he or she may use a properly fitted seat belt instead of a child restraint or booster. 

Exceptions to the Seatbelt Requirement

If you’ve been ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt, you may be able to defend yourself by proving your situation falls under one of the exceptions to the general rule. For example, you may not be legally required to wear a seatbelt if one or more of the following criteria applies to you:

  • The vehicle could not be safely stopped for an unbuckled passenger in the backseat
  • You were in the custody of a police officer and being transported in the back of a police car
  • You were a passenger in a motorhome and were not the driver or the front passenger
  • You were delivering goods and frequently stopping while driving at a speed of 20 miles per hour or less
  • You are operating in a vehicle that was not required to have seatbelts according to federal law
  • You have a physical or medical condition that prevents you from using a seatbelt
  • You were delivering newspapers or were a rural letter carrier

Can a Police Officer Stop Me for Not Wearing a Seatbelt?

A police officer may legally stop and ask you questions if he or she notices that you or one of your passengers isn’t wearing a seatbelt. However, a police officer cannot stop you because he or she notices that a backseat passenger isn’t wearing a seatbelt. 

North Carolina’s seat belt law prohibits police officers from stopping motorists because the back seat passenger isn’t buckled up. However, police officers can stop you for other reasons, such as suspicion of driving while intoxicated. If the driver realizes after stopping you that your back seat passenger is not wearing a seatbelt, the officer can cite you for the offense.

The Penalties for Failure to Wear a Seatbelt

The penalties for not wearing a seatbelt have increased over the years. When the seat belt law was first enacted, unbuckled drivers paid a $25 fine and did not have to pay any court costs. Currently, violators are still required to pay the $25 fine. They must also pay additional court fees, increasing the total to over $100. if a driver receives a citation for an unbuckled passenger in the back seat, he or she will pay without additional court costs.

How to Defend Yourself Against a Seat Belt Ticket

Fighting your seatbelt ticket can help you avoid paying fines and receiving points on your driver’s license. If the ticket is dismissed, you could save significant money by avoiding higher auto insurance premiums. 

Depending on the facts of your case, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal or challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution. The court may dismiss the charges against you after reviewing the evidence put forth by your attorney. Your attorney may be able to help you minimize the penalties and other consequences of the speeding ticket and help you understand all of your legal options.

Contact a Seatbelt Violation Defense Attorney in North Carolina

If you’ve been ticketed for a seat belt violation in North Carolina, you owe it to yourself to fight the ticket. Attorney Joel Hancock is dedicated to providing clients in the Beaufort area with experienced, cost-effective legal representation. Contact Hancock Law Firm today to learn how fighting your traffic ticket can benefit you in the long run.