In the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton, said he would not support the bill because, unlike the state's ban on texting while driving, this legislation does not protect public safety.
"This is a law all about your own self responsibility," he said.
Sponaugle said if passed, the law would be abused by law enforcement as an excuse to pull over drivers before searching their vehicles.
"It's going to cause headaches to the citizens of the state of West Virginia," he said. "I don't think it's necessary. I don't believe it's a good bill."
Delegate Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, said he would not support the bill because penalties for failure to buckle up were not harsh enough.
"A better way to do it would be to make the penalty one people will remember," he said.
Delegate Danny Wells, D-Kanawha, said he would support the bill in memory of former Delegate Bill Proudfoot, who was killed in a 2009 car accident. Proudfoot was not wearing his seat belt.
"I think if we save one life, it would be worth it. So I urge passage of the bill," he said.
Delegate Cindy Frich, R-Monongalia, echoed Wells' statement.
She said West Virginia drivers wear their seat belts only 84.9 percent of the time, while states with primary offense seat belt laws fare much better.
The seat belt bill is projected to improve usage in the state by about 7 percent, and experts predict it will save 14 lives each year.
"It's just a $25 penalty. That's the max. Let's do the right thing and try to save some lives here," Frich said.
Bob Tipton of the Governor's Highways Safety Commission told committee members that about 339 state residents die in car wrecks each year. About 100 of those killed are ejected from vehicles because they were not wearing their seatbelts.
Just last Friday, two children were killed and two were injured when a vehicle crashed on Interstate 79 in Braxton County. None of the four were wearing seat belts, and the two who died were ejected from the vehicle.