The West Fargo Police Department is participating in a seatbelt enforcement period Jan. 11 through Jan. 19. Additional officers will be patrolling the streets looking for those who fail to use passenger restraints. Those caught not buckled up face a fine of twenty dollars.
Seatbelt use by an adult is mandatory by law in North Dakota. For an adult the violation is considered a secondary enforcement offense. In explanation, a secondary offense requires the officer to have cause to stop your vehicle based on another type of violation. The initial violation can be an equipment violation like a headlight not working properly or the violation of driving a few miles over the speed limit. Once stopped, the officer can elect to cite the driver with the original violation, a seatbelt violation or both.
Seatbelt use by a person under the age of 18 is also mandatory in North Dakota. The difference being someone under 18 years of age not properly using a passenger restraint device is a primary enforcement offense. If the driver is under 18 and not buckled up, or there is a passenger less than 18 in the vehicle who is not properly restrained, an officer may conduct a traffic stop based on the seatbelt violation alone. It should be noted the driver is the one cited when the passenger is not properly secured within the vehicle.
There is also a separate offense for a failure to properly use a child restraint device. Such devices include baby carriers, child seats and booster seats. Each form of restraint has an intended purpose which changes as the child grows older. Child restraints are required until the child is at least four feet eight inches and more than eighty pounds. When used properly the vehicles shoulder belt should be across the child's chest not the face or neck. The lap belt should be across the hips and not across the abdomen. Child restraint technicians are on staff at the West Fargo Police Department and can assist with child seat installation or questions you may have.
Passenger restraints keep you inside the vehicle and in place. Staying put in the vehicle can reduce the potential harm you may suffer if you are involved in a vehicle crash. Buckling up should be something you insist on occurring before your vehicle is put into motion. Buckle up every time.