North Dakota Senate passes primary offense seatbelt bill

March 31, 2023

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFGO/KNOX) – A bill to make not wearing your seatbelt a “primary” offense is one step closer to becoming law in North Dakota.

Senate Bill 2362 passed the House Thursday with a 53-38 vote despite getting a do-not-pass recommendation from the House Transportation Committee last week.

The bill would require everyone in a vehicle to be buckled.

Current law makes being unbuckled a “secondary” offense, meaning the driver would have to be stopped for another reason before getting a ticket for not buckling up.

Grand Forks Republican Rep. Steve Vetter said Senate Bill 2362 “doesn’t actually do anything to save anyone’s life.”

“Seat belts save lives. Primary seat belt laws do not,” Vetter said. “At a certain point, we have to accept the harsh reality – people are going to die in auto accidents, and allowing police to pull you over, that’s not going to change anything. If we really want zero deaths, we should all wear helmets and we should all drive 45 miles an hour.”

Grand Forks Republican Rep. Emily O’Brien disagreed. She said that law enforcement supports the bill.

“If we really back the Blue,” O’Brien said, “we will pass this law and show our trust in these hard-working law enforcement officers. They’re asking for this bill not to write more tickets, but because they know it will change behavior. Seat belts do matter. One life saved by wearing a seat belt is enough. Seat belts are non-partisan. This bill … costs zero dollars.”

The Senate approved the bill in February.