Every state has its own version of a seat belt law with specific violations. Make sure you know Washington’s laws to avoid punishment and injury.

Washington's Seat Belt Laws Encourage Safety and Prevent Injury


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2/17/2016
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Since the modern shoulder belt became standard equipment in all cars, the impact on driver and passenger safety has been significant. In fact, according to safety studies, the proper use of the three-point belt system does the following:

  1. Reduces accident injuries by 50%
  2. Saves over 13,000 lives per year
  3. Provides the best defense against impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers

As a result of these findings seat belt use is not only a suggested safety method for motorists, it’s required by law in most states.

Washington's Seat Belt Laws

There are no federal laws governing the use of seat belts in the U.S, but each state has adopted its own laws regarding seat belt usage and enforcement. States have determined for themselves whether their seatbelt law is a primary or a secondary offense. The difference is significant:

  1. Primary. Allows law enforcement officers to pull over and ticket a driver or passenger for not wearing a seat belt, regardless of any other traffic offense that may have taken place.
  2. Secondary. Allows law enforcement officers to issue a ticket for not wearing a seat belt if and only if there is another traffic offense for which the driver has been pulled over.

Currently, 34 states (including Washington) have adopted versions of the primary seat belt law while 15 states employ the secondary classification (New Hampshire is the one state with no seat belt law for adults).

Washington’s primary seat belt law states that:

  1. All passengers (including the driver) must be properly restrained while a vehicle is in motion.
  2. Both front and rear safety belts should be worn at all times while a vehicle is in motion.
  3. Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to ride in the back of an open-bed truck or trailer as they are not equipped with restraints.
  4. If a passenger is found to not be wearing his seat belt, he may be liable to receive a fine of $124 for the first offense.
  5. If a driver is found to not be wearing his seat belt and has child passengers also not wearing their seat belts, he may be liable to receive a first-time offense fine as well as charges of reckless endangerment.
  6. Passengers 16 years of age and older are responsible for themselves and may receive their own citation if not properly restrained.
  7. Violators of the law may be subject to fines, court costs, driver license suspensions, and participation in driver and seat belt safety courses.

Andrew Kim Cares About Your Safety

As a car accident attorney in Bellevue, Andrew Kim has seen the tragic results of drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts. That is why he is sharing this important information with you. Washington’s seatbelt laws are designed to protect you, just like our attorneys will protect your legal rights when you have suffered an injustice.



Category: Car Accidents

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