Is a Seat Belt Ticket a Non-Moving Traffic Violation?

In some states, a seat belt ticket can lead to moving violation demerit points on your record.

The signature of a moving violation is that it puts demerit points on your record. However, each state has its own way of categorizing moving and non-moving traffic violations. So, whether a seat belt violation is considered a moving violation depends on what state you live in.

Seat Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws

All states have laws requiring children in vehicles to be in an appropriate child safety seat or use a seat belt. The specific requirements vary by state but generally depend on the child’s age and size. And all but one state, New Hampshire, require adult drivers and passenger vehicle passengers to wear seat belts.

Seat Belt and Child Restraint Offenses as Moving Violations

In most states, a seat belt ticket isn’t a moving violation and won’t result in points going on your driving record.

However, many states—even many of those where an adult seat belt offense isn’t a moving violation—classify child safety restraint offenses as moving violations. For example, in North Carolina, only seat belt and child restraint violations related to passengers younger than 16 years old are considered moving violations and lead to points on the driver’s record. Similarly, in Nebraska, a seat belt or child seat violation carries points only if the offense was for a child younger than eight years old.

There are also states, like Kentucky, that don’t categorize any seat belt or safety restraint offense (regardless of age) as moving violations. And other states, like New Mexico, where all seat belt and safety seat offenses are moving violations.

Enforcement of Seat Belt Violations

Generally, traffic violations are categorized as either “primary” or “secondary” offenses. The difference between the two relates to enforcement.

Police can pull a driver over just for a primary offense. For example, speeding is a primary offense in every state. So, if police see you exceeding the speed limit, they can stop you without having any other reason for doing so.

A secondary violation, on the other hand, isn’t enough for police to lawfully pull you over. To ticket you for a secondary violation, police must have some other valid reason for stopping you. Generally, the other valid reason will be a primary violation. For example, if an officer pulls you over for speeding and notices a secondary violation, he or she can give you a ticket for speeding and the secondary violation.

In most states—including California, Texas, New York, and Florida—seat belt and child restraint violations are primary offenses. While in other states—such as Montana and Wyoming—adult seat belt violations are secondary offenses.

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