Civil Liberties

Don't Buckle Up and Help Your State Make Its Budget!

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The state of Ohio, facing a $7.3 billion budget deficit over the next two years, is considering a change in its seat belt law. Like some 14 other states, the Buckeye State is mulling a switch to a "primary enforcement law," which would allow cops to pull people over if they think drivers aren't wearing a restraint. Currently, a citation can only be issued after being pulled over for another violation.

Why are states thinking about making the switch? It's not to save lives. It's to make money:

Ohio would get $26.8 million from the federal government. Currently, law enforcement officers in the state need to have some other reason to stop drivers over before issuing seat-belt citations….

"The budget includes a primary seat-belt enforcement law because evidence suggests it saves lives and to bring additional federal resources for highway safety," said spokesman Keith Dailey.

All is not lost, gentle readers, however. The AP suggests that the change may not happen, at least in Ohio. Why?

Still, the proposed change faces obstacles in states like Ohio, where many Republicans—who control the Senate—oppose it because of libertarian philosophies.

To put it bluntly, when you're expecting Republicans to protect your freedom or your money because of their "libertarian philosophies" just color it gone. Think about the last eight years at the national level (and for Ohioans, think about life under Gov. Bob Taft, idiot scion of a famous political family).

I wear a safety belt when I drive or ride in a car because it makes sense. It doesn't make sense to change laws for a paltry handout from the feds, especially when that change will likely to police abuse in the form of more arbitrary stops.

Whole thing here.

Reason on seat belt laws.

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  1. …especially when that change will likely to police abuse in the form of more arbitrary stops.

    Sounds like a recipe for more “driving while black” stops.

  2. Ah, but what about the externalities of not wearing a seat belt? Your right to turn your body into a projectile ends at my windshield. Do you know how many people have been killed by flying bodies of unseatbelted drivers and passengers?

  3. What, exactly, do the states have to do to get extra federal funds? Arrest or cite more seatbelt-less drivers? Pass a primary enforcement law? Give us some details so I don’t have to look them up.

  4. “…police abuse in the form of more arbitrary stops.”

    This is the point we need to hammer home. Otherwise, it’s just, “Oh, you libertarians are whining again because you have to wear seat belts. Hahahahah.”

  5. Then again, even if we’re successful in framing the debate, it’ll be, “Oh, you libertarians are whining again ’cause you think the cops are hassling blacks and Mexicans. Hahahaha.”

  6. Mad Max – The primary enforcement law would have to be passed and signed by the governor by 6/30, and Ohio would have to start issuing citations by 9/30. I think that just means the relevant infrastructure for issuing the citations would have to be in place by then – fines determined, etc.

  7. Even when the government does something primarily for safety purposes (such as the initial drunk driving laws), it is always–always–perverted into a income stream. This is the reason politicians go along with MADD’s demands for lower and lower BAC limits, for instance. They just make more money from it. And let’s not even get into the blatant schemes like red light cameras.

  8. I’d love to see a breakdown of how much the government “taxes” the people through fines for citations, misdemeanors, code violations, and inspections. Might as well throw registration fees, etc. in there. Then combine that with income tax, property tax, sales tax, phone taxes, etc. and come up with the true percentage of our income which goes to the government.

  9. Kentucky did this bait and switch. The secondary enforcement law was passed with all the supporters going blue in the face to deny that it was a slippery slope to a primary enforcement law. It only took about three years before those same liars started pushing it.

  10. To put it bluntly, when you’re expecting Republicans to protect your freedom or your money because of their “libertarian philosophies” just color it gone.

    Why would you trash anyone, ever, for sticking to their libertarianism? It’s not like these Republicans are making money by standing in the way of this law. They’re doing it because they believe it’s right.

    We need to learn, and quickly, that our only legitimate shot at preventing a complete shift in the way Americans interact with their government in the next four to eight years is a newly-principled Republican Party, which we should encourage every chance we have. Trashing them for their past buffoonery is not going to keep away socialized health care (slavery), it isn’t going stop the Fairness Doctrine, and it definitely isn’t going to keep down taxes.

    A short, sober, “Wow. Nice job, Republicans,” is what came to my mind when I read that article. I’m sticking to that sentiment. These men should be commended.

  11. our only legitimate shot at preventing a complete shift in the way Americans interact with their government in the next four to eight years is a newly-principled Republican Party

    Well, in that case,

    we’re fucked.

  12. Before you ask, P Brooks, that wasn’t me, either. 🙂

  13. Once we get the BigBrotherBox in all cars, the police will have total access to your behavior behind the wheel.

    We’re not just talking seatbelt use, or outright speed, here. The aaccelerometer will tell (literally) the Overlords about your “reckless” high-G cornering habits, and those Earth-wrecking, fuel-wasting, “jackrabbit” starts. They will know if you’ve changed lanes an excessive number of times, an indicator of dangerously weaving through traffic while trying to exceed the pace of surrounding traffic.

    You’ll be billed monthly.

    Have a nice day.

  14. The fundamental problem here is allowing the federal government to condition funds to the states on unrelated matters.

    Its a backdoor for exercising the Constitutionally illegitimate federal police power. A SCOTUS with stones would prohibit it. In the absence of a SCOTUS with stones, it would take a Constitutional amendment.

    I am rapidly approaching the point where the list of Constitutional amendments necessary to restore some semblance of our departed Constitutional Republic is so long that I would be willing to roll the dice on a new Constitutional Convention.

  15. It’s virtually impossible to correctly determine seat belt use during these “click it or ticket” campaigns where cops set up by the side of the road and watch 6 lanes of traffic zipping by at 35-70 mph. When they pull you over and see that you are indeed wearing a seat belt they don’t acknowledge a mistake by them, they just write the ticket anyway. Too bad for me, the judge believed the officer.

  16. “if they think drivers aren’t wearing a restraint”

    Or PASSENGERS, apparently. While in Maryland, I got pulled over because one of my passengers wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. He then questioned us about drug use, and it was freaking sunday afternoon.

    I guess the “probable cause” was young people with scruffy hair.

  17. Well, in that case,

    we’re fucked.

    Maybe. But I’m kind of an optimist.

  18. a seat belt + airbag saved my ass once. nobody who saw pix of my truck could figure out why i wasn’t dead.

  19. bruce,

    It’s better to burn out, than to fade away!

    *unbuckles seat belt, hits nitrous*

  20. Seriously, this is bullshit! Are they gonna have video of people not wearing their seatbelts? Somethin’ tells me judges are gonna take the officers word 99.9% of the time.

  21. I agree with z. How the fuck can you make this a primary enforcement law when it’s almost impossible to tell if someone is wearing a seatbelt when they are moving over a certain speed or are too far away. It’s basically going to allow cops to pull over anyone they want for whatever reason they want and stick it under “seatbelt.” Sucks to be a minority in a shitty.

  22. Episiarch,

    It’s about 51 to 53 cents of every dollar you make. Federal, state, local . . .

  23. I’d love to see […] the true percentage of our income which goes to the government.

    I tracked my own percentage one year in the mid-’90s, not accounting for who knows what hidden regulatory-monopoly effects and such, and it was just over 40%. That was when I was poor (after taxes).

    Then I started getting paid a lot, but I still didn’t own anything except the business that paid me, so it went up over 50%. So I couldn’t buy anything. So now I’m a criminal, and I do much better.

    I’d say “Just take the official GDP percentage and double it,” but that might underestimate the burden on the average privately employed citizen. The majority of “the economy” is really only parasitic on it.

    Whatever the number is, it’s higher than you think.

  24. Be ready for a new rash of claims like “And then I saw marijuana laying right there on the front seat” or “there was an open bottle of wine visible on the backseat” or “when I saw the shotgun shells, I had probable cause to look for firearms.”

    I could go for a change in the law that reads:
    “If you are injured in an auto accident and were not wearing a seat belt, none of your medical care may be paid for by the taxpayers.”

  25. especially when that change will likely to police abuse in the form of more arbitrary stops.

    You say that like its a bug rather than a feature

  26. In NH, we’re currently fighting to remain the last state with no seatbelt law.

    The testimony from the AG’s office at the hearing was appalling – the woman said that it was “arrogant” and “petty” to hold out and that we have to “catch up with the rest of the country.”

    I’m sure that the state’s huge budget shortfalls have nothing to do with that.

  27. Click it or ticket!

  28. And let’s not even get into the blatant schemes like red light cameras.

    But, but, but they’re really for safety, right?

    Or PASSENGERS, apparently. While in Maryland, I got pulled over because one of my passengers wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. He then questioned us about drug use, and it was freaking sunday afternoon.

    That is true. In the People’s Republic of MD, it is a primary offense for anyone in the vehicle to not have a seatbelt securely fastened.

    As for the scruffy hair, well, it sounds like you just need a dose of common sense regulation.

    The testimony from the AG’s office at the hearing was appalling – the woman said that it was “arrogant” and “petty” to hold out and that we have to “catch up with the rest of the country.”

    Isn’t it amazing that people think that way?

  29. As for the scruffy hair, well, it sounds like you just need a dose of common sense regulation.

    I forget. Is that applied with or without lube?

  30. I wear a seat belt only because of the law. The law of physics!

    Inertia is a bitch and I fear her when high speeds rapidly become low speeds.

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