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Politics & Government

House votes no on primary seat belt law

A bill to make North Dakota’s seat belt law a primary enforcement law has been rejected by the North Dakota House.

State law says the driver and any front seat passenger has to be buckled up. However, they can’t be stopped for only that offense – making it secondary enforcement. The proposal would have allowed law enforcement to stop a driver for simply being unbuckled.

Opponents of the bill argued it's a matter of freedom of choice for drivers.

"As we continue to chip away at those freedoms that each one of us enjoys as free citizens of our state and of our nation, pretty soon we'll be at the point where the government's going to tell us what color to paint our house, what color car we drive, what type of furniture we have in our home, et cetera," said Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo).

Rep.Curt Kruhn (R-Grand Forks) said the loudest voices in favor of the bill come from people who suffered catastrophic injuries from being ejected from a car – because they weren’t wearing seat belts.

"I don't know if anybody here has had that traumatic of an injury, that they had to learn how to walk and how to talk," said Kruhn. "If we can prevent just one or two or three of those every year, it would be dramatic."

The measure failed 52-40.

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