He said by wearing their seat belts, drivers will be less likely to die in car crashes, and that will give police more time to attend to other matters.
Sen. Chris Walter, R-Putnam, asked if police could use seat belt violations as an excuse to search vehicles they deem suspicious.
Patterson said police would not be allowed to search a vehicle unless contraband was visible when the officer approached or there was other blatant evidence, like the smell of marijuana.
Other than that, Patterson said police would have to have a defensible reason to search a vehicle.
"It's not just a carte blanche for law enforcement to completely search vehicles," he said.
Patterson estimated well above 50 percent of drivers already wear seatbelts.
Under the bill, drivers caught unbuckled would pay a $25 fine. The bill forbids any additional court fees for seat belt offenses.
The bill now will go to the full Senate for a vote. It is expected to pass.