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Seat belt debate heats up in MO House

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Legislation that would require primary enforcement of the state's seat belt law is facing strong opposition in the Missouri House. A two-hour debate was suspended Wednesday night and might resume Thursday.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Neal St. Onge of St. Louis County, says passing the bill could save 90 lives a year. "People say 'it's my right not to wear a seat belt'," St. Onge said Wednesday. "I counter by saying, 'driving is a privilege, not a right' and some rules are required to maintain the privileges."

Opposition to the bill came from both parties. Democrat Leonard Hughes of Kansas City says he fears more minorities could fall victim to racial profiling if it passes.

The bill would allow law officers to pull people over for not being buckled up. Currently law only allows seat belt citations to be given to drivers pulled over for other reasons.