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What are the seat belt laws in Washington State?

Cars have many safety features that work to keep people inside free from injuries. These safety features are an absolute necessity when trying to avoid injuries while on the road. Even in minor car accidents, things like bumpers, safety glass, air bags and seat belts work together to keep the car's occupants safe.

It's arguable that the most important safety feature in cars today is the seat belt. Proper use of seat belts can help keep people properly secured in their cars during an accident. This can literally save a person's life.

In an effort to protect people, many states have made seat belt use mandatory. These laws are in place to increase the use of seat belts. Washington is one of many states with a primary seat belt law, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. A primary law -- unlike a secondary law -- give police officers and other law enforcement officials the right to ticket a driver for not wearing a seat belt even if no other driving offense has occurred. Those who receive a ticket will have criminal consequences like a fine. A secondary seat belt law, on the other hand, only allows officers to ticket individuals for not wearing a seat belt if another traffic offense -- like speeding, for example -- has occurred first.

In Washington, the law requires that anyone who is older than 8-years-old or taller than four feet and nine inches to wear a seatbelt. This law applies no matter where in the car -- front or back -- the person is sitting. If this law is violated, a driver can face a maximum fine of $124.

While children are too small for proper seat belt use, they are not exempt from a restraint system. Washington has extensive car seat requirements that apply to children, as was discussed in a previous post.

These seat belt laws are important in protecting people. But, even with proper use, a motorist wearing a seat belt can still be involved in an accident caused by a negligent driver and suffer serious injuries. An attorney can help to explain people's rights following a dangerous car accident.

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