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What Are Washington State’s Seat Belt Laws?

Updated on: 10/2/2019

Cars, trucks, and other modern-day motor vehicles have a suite of safety features that are designed to reduce the chances of a driver or passenger being injured in a car accident. At the very least, safety features such as airbags, blind spot warnings, and seat belts can minimize the severity of a person’s injuries if an accident does occur.

But perhaps the most important safety feature is the seat belt, which keeps occupants correctly secured in the vehicle and can help prevent injuries that result from jolting around after an impact. One of the longest standing safety features in any motor vehicle, seat belts can make all the difference in minimizing or even preventing injuries in a car accident.

Mandatory Seat Belt Use In Washington State

In an effort to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities from car accidents each year, many states – including Washington state – have moved to require all drivers to wear seat belts while behind the wheel on public roadways.

Washington is one of many states with what is called a primary seat belt law, which means that police officers are permitted to pull over and cite drivers and passengers for a failure to wear a seat belt even if there is no other preempting traffic offense. In other states where seat belt laws are a secondary law, officers are only allowed to ticket drivers for failure to wear a seat belt if the driver had committed another traffic offense – such as an illegal U-turn or failure to yield – first, which led the officer to discover the lack of a seat belt. 

If you receive a ticket for failure to wear a seat belt in Washington state, you may be subject to a $124 fine. This includes if you are over the age of 16 and are driving a vehicle while a passenger is not wearing a safety belt or approved child restraint device.

Protecting Yourself After A Car Accident

Washington state crash data strongly suggests that drivers and passengers alike who use a seat belt face a much better chance of surviving a car accident and have a much lower likelihood of being seriously injured. As much as many people feel that wearing a seat belt can be an inconvenience, reducing the rate of serious injury from vehicle accidents is in the best interests of everyone.

That being said, car accidents happen every day in Washington and people can still suffer serious injuries in a collision even with proper seat belt use. In the event that you are seriously injured in a car accident, a qualified personal injury attorney may be able to help you better understand your legal rights and evaluate your legal options for pursuing a personal injury claim.

The award-winning car accident attorneys at Seattle-based Davis Law Group offer a free case evaluation & legal consultation to accident victims. Call our office in Seattle at (206) 727-4000 or use the confidential contact form on this page to have your case personally reviewed by our legal team. If we believe we can help improve the chances of a favorable outcome in your case, our lawyers will meet with you for a free legal consultation.

Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.
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