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. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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