On May 4, the Colorado House Committee on Appropriations voted to indefinitely postpone Senate Bill 09-296, which would have made seatbelt violations in the state a "primary offense". What is a primary offense? A primary offense as it applies to our everyday lives is an offense that police can use to justify stopping your car. The House's actions effectively kill the bill and this curbs Colorado's opportunity to receive between $12 and $14 million dollars in additional federal funding. However, given the federal interest in states passing tougher seatbelt legislation, it is unlikely this is the last time this bill rears its ugly head.
So how does it impact you? Throughout the years, there have been many concerns that racial profiling, and other unreliable excuses have given police numerous opportunities to stop drivers under pretext of a law violation such as an overly tinted window or an obstruction blocking the windshield, and then once the stop is made, the police search the passengers and car and try to file multiple charges on the drivers or passengers. Maybe they'll find an old pot pipe and file Drug Charges, or maybe they'll find an empty beer bottle and say you were drinking and charge you with DUI. The bottom line is that this law would have given police yet another excuse to stop you. One that you would have a hard time disproving in Court, after all with no evidence other than the officer's testimony that you weren't wearing your seatbelt, it would come down to your word versus his.
As hard as it is for Criminal Defense Attorneys to show improper grounds for a stop at suppression hearings leading to trial, the last thing our clients needed was yet another reason the officer could justify validating his pretext stop. Good for you Colorado for doing the right thing!
While we hope you benefit from the information we posted above, it is important to note that we always suggest you contact an attorney to advise you and walk you through the legal process so that you can achieve the best possible result.
This blog was posted by Shazam Kianpour, the owner and managing partner at Shazam Kianpour & Associates, P.C. You may contact him directly at our law firm at 303-825-1075 or at http://www.shazamlaw.com/