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  1. #1
    pkt63 is offline Junior Member
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    Improper use of seatbelt ticket

    What is the name of your state? CA

    The California Vehicle Code states: "A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a highway unless that person and all passengers 16 years of age or over are properly restrained by a safety belt."

    Does anyone know where "proper" is defined? I can see online that people are given tickets for tucking the seatbelt under the arm, but I would like to know if there is some credible source of evidence that defines for a person what the law considers proper or not. Has anyone ever heard of a successful defense against the word proper, if it is not defined?

    Further, I note the law talks about operating a motor vehicle on a highway. This seems weird, as I would never expect that it's ok to not wear a seatbelt on a normal street....what am I missing? Are all streets considered highways technically?

    Finally, the CVC also says: any violation of subdivision (d), (e), or (f) is an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense.

    Yet, I have been reading about tickets more like in the range of $80. Anyone know how that might be? I just got my ticket a couple hours ago, so not sure how much mine will be...
    Last edited by pkt63; 06-02-2007 at 06:30 PM.
  2. #2
    CourtClerk is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by pkt63 View Post
    What is the name of your state? CA

    The California Vehicle Code states: "A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a highway unless that person and all passengers 16 years of age or over are properly restrained by a safety belt."

    Does anyone know where "proper" is defined? I can see online that people are given tickets for tucking the seatbelt under the arm, but I would like to know if there is some credible source of evidence that defines for a person what the law considers proper or not. Has anyone ever heard of a successful defense against the word proper, if it is not defined?

    Further, I note the law talks about operating a motor vehicle on a highway. This seems weird, as I would never expect that it's ok to not wear a seatbelt on a normal street....what am I missing? Are all streets considered highways technically?

    Finally, the CVC also says: any violation of subdivision (d), (e), or (f) is an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense.

    Yet, I have been reading about tickets more like in the range of $80. Anyone know how that might be? I just got my ticket a couple hours ago, so not sure how much mine will be...

    Proper use of your seatbelt is defined by having it buckled, with the shoulder strap that goes completely diagonally across your torso and the lap belt across your lap. The fine is currently $91 with the penalty assessments.
  3. #3
    pkt63 is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you. However, my question was not "what is the definition" but "where is it defined?" I am interested in seeing where the official source definition originates, in writing. Thanks to anyone that can help with that.
  4. #4
    CourtClerk is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by pkt63 View Post
    Thank you. However, my question was not "what is the definition" but "where is it defined?" I am interested in seeing where the official source definition originates, in writing. Thanks to anyone that can help with that.
    Try NTSA... I believe that is where the LAPD and LASD get their definition of the proper use of a seatbelt if I recall. This was a conversation we had just on Tuesday when a woman came to contest her ticket based on both of her children being restrained in 1 seatbelt. Carl could probably tell you where to find it, however, let me see if I can find it here in my vehicle code book.
  5. #5
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    To my knowledge "proper" is not mentioned in the statutes or any case law ... it's kinda silly to pay an attorney several thousand dollars to appeal a $76 citation that does not count against your license.

    However, every court I have been to defines a seatbelt as properly restraining a person when it is applied as the manufacturer intended. A seatbelt worn outside the manufacturer's approved specs is worthless.

    I don't have the time or desire to research it, but i would venture to guess that if you did as CourtClerk suggested and review the NHTSA standards you would find that proper application includes the shoulder harness OVER the shoulder and torso.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
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    CourtClerk is offline Senior Member
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    Thumbs down

    Quote Originally Posted by CdwJava View Post
    However, every court I have been to defines a seatbelt as properly restraining a person when it is applied as the manufacturer intended. A seatbelt worn outside the manufacturer's approved specs is worthless.

    - Carl
    Carl,
    For the record, this was the other argument posed by the officers and deputies having the discussion on the "proper use of a seatbelt." That is the argument that was given in the officer's declaration (TBD) and the defendant was found guilty. Also, I have never sat through a seatbelt ticket trial where the defendant prevailed and wasn't wearing his seatbelt "properly," as defined by the manufacturer.
  7. #7
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by pkt63
    Has anyone ever heard of a successful defense against the word proper, if it is not defined?
    Seen it tried dozens of time ... seen it lose EVERY time.

    Further, I note the law talks about operating a motor vehicle on a highway. This seems weird, as I would never expect that it's ok to not wear a seatbelt on a normal street....what am I missing? Are all streets considered highways technically?
    From the CVC:

    360. "Highway" is a way or place of whatever nature, publicly
    maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of
    vehicular travel. Highway includes street.


    Finally, the CVC also says: any violation of subdivision (d), (e), or (f) is an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense.

    Yet, I have been reading about tickets more like in the range of $80. Anyone know how that might be? I just got my ticket a couple hours ago, so not sure how much mine will be...
    After fees, assessments, etc., you are looking at about $76 (per CA 2007 uniform bail and penalty schedule). In my county I am told it totals $84. Your county could be different.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  8. #8
    CourtClerk is offline Senior Member
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    Down here in LA County, it's $93. The PA's went up AGAIN 3/12/07. The second raise in the PAs in 6 months.
  9. #9
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    Ours must have as well to reach $84 ... but we're in the rural north. Our "Click it or Ticket" campaign has been only marginally successful as a lot of people in town already wear seatbelts (we frequently stop people for this anyway, so they may be well trained). In the county, however, the CHP is racking 'em up ... apparently farmers and ranchers don't believe in seatbelts. And the S.O. ... well, they haven't found the Vehicle Code yet.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  10. #10
    pkt63 is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks for the leads and info. I have spent a while looking at the NHTSA website and haven't found anything as detailed as defining proper use, but I'll have another go at it later. My owner's manual does talk a lot about adjusting the belt and what-not but does not make any statement regarding the placement over the shoulder vs. under the arm. The most it says is not to let it rest on your neck because that can be dangerous.

    Here's another question: In the case one does not receive a "courtesy notice" how does one know how to request a trial by written declaration? The ticket I received says to mail a letter, but not where to mail it. Is it to the court I am supposed to appear at? It also says to include the bail amount, but of course nothing on it says how much that is.
  11. #11
    The Occultist is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by pkt63 View Post
    Here's another question: In the case one does not receive a "courtesy notice" how does one know how to request a trial by written declaration? The ticket I received says to mail a letter, but not where to mail it. Is it to the court I am supposed to appear at? It also says to include the bail amount, but of course nothing on it says how much that is.
    The clerk of your assigned court she be able to answer these questions.
  12. #12
    CdwJava is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by pkt63
    Here's another question: In the case one does not receive a "courtesy notice" how does one know how to request a trial by written declaration?
    Contact the court. You do not have a right to be notified by mail of the charges and your options - that's why it is a "courtesy" notice. If you want to be proactive, then make this request when you go in for your arraignment (the first court appearance).

    The ticket I received says to mail a letter, but not where to mail it. Is it to the court I am supposed to appear at? It also says to include the bail amount, but of course nothing on it says how much that is.
    Call the court and ask. My guess would be that you do send it to the court you are scheduled to appear at. After about two weeks, the court should have a record of the citation and can probably give you some direction as to how much to send and what to do. It is usually best to show up AT the court and get the information, but you might be able to find out what you need by phone or even on line if your county is hard-wired that well.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM
  13. #13
    pkt63 is offline Junior Member
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    Somehow I keep coming up wth more questions.... I have read that if convicted of the violation, it will appear on your record at the DMV. Then it says a point count may be charged. So, there is a difference? I thought the way things were recorded on one's record was by recording a point. If there are no points associated with the conviction, there is still some kind of pseudo-record that doesn't affect your insurance? And if so, who can see that information?

    thanks again.
  14. #14
    CourtClerk is offline Senior Member
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    1. Courtesy notices are just that. They are a courtesy. Court staff cannot be responsible for what happens once the letter leaves the processing unit so if the post office loses it, it goes to the wrong address or the dog ate it, one of the biggest excuses we hear when people come in is that they didn't receive the notice in the mail. The response? The only notice you are guaranteed to get is the one you signed (the actual ticket).

    2. Seatbelt tickets do not carry a point in the state of California. They will appear on your record as a conviction, but since they are not moving violations, they don't carry points. Anyone that pulls your driving record can see a list of all convictions and accidents. It's hard to tell what your insurance company would do, however, there are people who pay full fines on fix it tickets and those appear on your record also. There are a bunch of vehicle code violations that don't carry points (driving in the carpool solo for one). If you want to know how it will effect your insurance, the best person to ask is a rep at your insurance company.

    3. Down here in LA County, we need 3 - 4 weeks after you receive the ticket to have it in our system. After that, you can call the court (address and phone number should be on the bottom of your ticket) and find out the bail amount (see the discussion between Carl and I about the differences in bail amounts from county to county). At that point, mail in a check (or pay online) and request a trial by declaration if you would like. Arraignments are not necessary for seatbelt tickets.

    4. Yes, you must request your trial by declaration (TBD) from the court to which your ticket is assigned. The address is on the bottom of your ticket.

    BTW...on a side note. This morning when I was waiting on my car, I looked at the book that came with my car when I bought it. It does discuss the proper usage of a seatbelt.
  15. #15
    mdebmar is offline Junior Member
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    I personally think, and this is my opinion only, that a person ought to be able, in fact encouraged, to go to traffic school and get some education in the proper use of a seatbelt, plus tips for how to handle physical disabilities that make it difficult to wear in the way police look for. Then, if it is a first offense, it should not appear on the record if the person satisfactorily completed the traffic school course.

    I don't think I should have to pay the $89 my county charges, and I don't think it ought to appear on my record, since I did have the seatbelt buckled and I was restrained by it. I am going to see my doctor about needing to have the left arm over the belt. I have heard that a medical exemption may be possible.

    Still, I think they are going WAAAY overboard with these seatbelt tickets, and for the record, I DO believe in seatbelts, just think this campaign to stop anyone APPEARING not to wear one as they think proper, is just going too far.

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