The fifth time may be the charm for Senate Judiciary Chairman Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha. The House of Delegates passed a bill to let police pull over drivers who aren't wearing seat belts.
At present, officers can cite someone only if the driver is pulled over for another reason. For five years, Palumbo has sponsored legislation to make failure to wear a seatbelt a primary offense.
The penalty is a $25 fine. No points would be added to a driver's license.
The state has required the use of seat belts for 20 years. The argument against making it a primary offense is that it gives police the power to pull over a driver who is otherwise obeying the law.
Some find that unnecessarily intrusive. Others think safety outweighs that concern.
"Seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50 percent," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
West Virginia will be the 35th state to make failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense. States with primary offense laws have about a 10 percent higher usage of seat belts than states without it.
In the past, the Senate would pass this bill only to have it die in the House. With House passage, senators should send the bill quickly to the governor so it can finally become state law.