ILNews

Improperly fastened seatbelt can lead to stop

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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Front-seat passengers in cars must have their seatbelts properly fastened when the car is in motion, meaning the lap belt must be fastened and the shoulder belt across his or her shoulder, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

The appellate court examined Indiana Code Section 9-19-10-2 to come to the conclusion that to avoid being stopped by a police officer for a seatbelt violation, a person must have both the lap and shoulder harnesses fastened and placed properly on the body.

In State of Indiana v. Shawn Massey, No. 49A02-0712-CR-1136, the state appealed the trial court's grant of Shawn Massey's motion to suppress evidence found during what she claimed was an invalid traffic stop.

The police saw Massey's passenger, a 12-year-old girl, did not have the shoulder part of her seatbelt across her body properly, so they stopped the car. The girl had on only the lap portion of the belt; she had the shoulder harness tucked underneath her armpit.

Massey was charged with Class D felony operating a motor vehicle while a habitual traffic offender because after stopping the car, the police discovered she was driving with a suspended license.

At issue is how to construe the "properly fastened" language in the seatbelt statute. The state argued the passenger didn't have her seatbelt properly fastened because she was only wearing the lap belt correctly.

Chief Judge John Baker, noting there isn't any Indiana precedent on the case, agreed with the state's argument that it would be illogical to construe the statute as permitting a motorist to wear a seatbelt improperly. The purpose of the statute is to promote highway safety and to protect citizens.

The evidence on the record led the police to conclude that the passenger wasn't wearing her seatbelt because they saw the seatbelt tucked behind her shoulder, which initiated the stop, he wrote.

Because Massey committed a Class D infraction by having a passenger under the age of 16 not properly fastened by a safety belt, the police had the authority to ask for Massey's driver's license, which led to the discovery she was driving while her driving privileges were suspended.
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  1. Such things are no more elections than those in the late, unlamented Soviet Union.

  2. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  3. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  4. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  5. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

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