Driving Without a Seat Belt Becomes a Primary Offense July 9 - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Driving Without a Seat Belt Becomes Primary Offense July 9

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Harrison County -

It's a common saying, "Click It or Ticket." As of July 9 it officially will become a primary offense to not wear your seat belt while driving.

"A law enforcement officer can pull over an individual that is not wearing a seat belt and should be," said Georgia Hatfield, the regional program director for the West Virginia Governor's Highway Safety Program.

Until now, failure to wear a seat belt has only been a secondary offense in West Virginia.

"The secondary law simply meant that you pull somebody over that's already broken the law, maybe gone through a stop light, and then they notice you don't have a seat belt on. They can charge you with that too," Hatfield explained.

Harrison County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Steve Johnson said he believes making the seat belt law a primary offense will promote seat belt use.

"I'm sure that they will be more encouraged now that it's a primary offense, they'll be stopped for not wearing a seat belt. I'm sure there are people out there that are just not going to wear them, but they are designed for safety," Johnson said.

Johnson said it's important to remember to wear your seat belt, even on short trips.

"Most crashes happen within a mile or so of where you live. It's when you're starting off or getting back. You get in your vehicle, put your seat belt on, and start it up. It also keeps the dinging noise from going off in your car," Johnson said.

The West Virginia Governor's Highway Safety Program had a vital role in the new law.

"We want not only enforce the law but we want to educate people and make them highly aware that it's the safest thing to do, and it's not a bad thing," Hatfield said.

On July 1, talking on a cell phone while driving was also made a primary violation.