Click it or ticket.
That was the ruling out of the Washington Supreme Court yesterday, which overturned a lower-court ruling that the state seat-belt law was so vague it was unconstitutional.
"Washington's seat-belt law is hardly a model of clarity," the 7-2 majority wrote. However, the justices said, the law is clear enough that it's not necessarily unconstitutional.
Washington has required most drivers and passengers to wear seat belts since 1986. For years, seat-belt tickets could be issued only if the officer had another reason to stop a car – say, for speeding.
In 2002, however, failing to wear a seat belt became a primary offense, meaning officers could stop cars solely on the basis of a seat-belt violation.
And recently, the state stepped up its efforts to enforce the law as part of a campaign, called "Click it or Ticket," which started in July 2002 with the purpose of improving highway safety.
(Read on here.)
When it comes to lives saved, much of this may be beside the point since Washington's highway fatality rate has been dropping for a long time.