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St. Louis lawmaker to again sponsor seat belt fine increase

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – A St. Louis lawmaker plans to continue pushing for higher seat belt fines when Missouri legislators return to Jefferson City next year.

Democratic State Senator Joseph Keaveny says he'll again sponsor legislation to raise fines for not buckling up from $10 to $50 per violation. He admits, though, that getting the bill passed will be an uphill battle, as it didn't get very far the first time.

"It was voted down in committee," Keaveny said. "There (were) two arguments against it: It's an unnecessary imposition of government in our personal lives, and it's a tax increase in disguise."

Since Missouri does not have a primary enforcement law, Keaveny suggests that a higher fine is the next best way to get people to buckle up.

"Wearing your seat belt results in a major reduction in injury and fatality, and if we can just convince people that wearing our seat belts would keep them from getting hurt, would stop the insurance claims, I think it would be a very positive move," Keaveny said.

According to MoDOT, seat belt use in Missouri is down slightly, from 77% in 2009 to 76% in 2010.