Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Steve Dale said the DMV endorses the legislation.
If West Virginia makes its seat-belt law a primary offense, it will qualify for an additional $1.2 million a year of federal highway safety funding, Dale said.
Besides making failure to wear seat belts a primary offense, the bill would also require all passengers to wear seat belts. Current law exempts passengers over age 18 who are not in the front seat of the vehicle.
As drafted, the bill set a flat fine of $15 for violations, but the committee increased that to $25 per violation, to comply with the minimum fine permissible under federal highway standards.
The bill would also allow exceptions for persons who have medical conditions that make it impossible or impractical to wear seat belts, such as casts or other medical devices, or for persons who are morbidly obese. That exception would require a certified statement from the individual's physician.
The bill has to go through the Senate Judiciary Committee before it goes to the full Senate. Its prospects in the Judiciary Committee approval appear good: The bill's primary sponsor is Senate Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.