How to get a no seat belt ticket dismissed? If you’ve been issued a citation in Virginia for not wearing your seat belt, you may be inclined to pay the ticket and move on. But before you do so, you should talk to a Virginia traffic defense attorney. Samantha Upton has helped thousands of drivers deal with traffic violations, including cases involving drivers or passengers cited with a seat belt violation.
With help from a traffic defense lawyer like Samantha, you might be able to have the no seat belt ticket dismissed and avoid the potential penalties that come with a seat belt violation. Samantha exclusively handles criminal and traffic citation defense cases. She is ready to review your situation, explore your options, and fight for the best outcome for you.
To successfully challenge a seat belt ticket you must either create reasonable doubt about whether you were wearing your seat belt or mount a due diligence defense.
You must chose either the reasonable doubt or due diligence defense. You cannot do both. The first argues that you were in fact wearing your seat belt. The second argues why you should not be convicted for not wearing your seat belt.
How to Get a No Seat Belt Ticket Dismissed
Reasonable doubt requires a credible explanation why the officer mistakenly thought you were not wearing your seat belt when in fact you were.
Perhaps you had taken your seat belt off to exit the vehicle or reach for something. In Tassone cited above, the court ruled that there are reasonable points where someone can do this. The defendant claimed he took his seat belt off to reach for his wallet at a red light. That’s when the officer saw him without the seat belt. He argued that he would have put it back on but was stopped and charged instead.
While the court believed his story, he was still found guilty. In this case the court found that he had his seat belt off for too long, that the engine was running and a red light is not the most appropriate place to take off your seat belt. He was therefore guilty of the violation.
You must be extremely careful not to stretch the bounds of credibility. You must be believable. You must show that you are morally innocent. You must not convey that you are just reaching for an excuse to get you out of the ticket but in fact an injustice would occur if you were convicted.
In Tassone notice how there were inconsistencies in the defendant’s testimony. If he was reaching for his wallet, why did it take so long? He provided an excuse why his seat belt was off but nothing else.
Diligence requires conveying an awareness of what you are doing, realizing the consequences of the prohibited act, a desire to avoid the prohibited act and the detailed steps you took to do so. You can’t simply provide an explanation why you were not wearing your seat belt. You must do more. Only then will you successfully argue a due diligence defense.
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A due diligence defence has to credibly explain:
- Why you were not wearing your seat belt,
- The diligent steps you took to avoid not wearing a seat belt, and
- That you believed you were in fact wearing your seat belt.
The best ruling on fighting a seat belt ticket is Kanda cited previously. It is instrumental in establishing your defence. Read this case carefully.
In order to raise this defence, you must first cite Kanda and point to the language of s. 106 to show that there is no explicit wording establishing the offence as an absolute liability charge. You therefore can mount a defence of due diligence.
You must state that you always wear your seat belt. You know how important it is to wear your seat belt at all times. It is very simple and straightforward thing to do which prevents serious injury. It is in your interest to always wear a seat belt. You wouldn’t wear a seat belt only when you think you are going to get in an accident. You cannot anticipate accidents. A prudent person would always were a seat belt because you never know when you might get into an accident.
Or perhaps something unusual occurred. Something out of your normal routine. You always get in your car, close the door, fasten your seat belt and start the car. Perhaps you then had to take the seat belt off to attend to something. You forgot something in the back seat or trunk. Or you were going through a drive through and had to remove it to reach the pick-up window. A momentary forgetfulness that resulted in you driving unaware that you were not wearing your seat belt.
A morally innocent person should not be convicted of a strict liability offence. You must take great steps to show that you are morally innocent. The examples above are just the start of the argument you must present. Clearly the examples will raise questions. Why didn’t you notice the seat belt light on your dash board?
Some car models are prone to warning light failure or display warning lights continuously even though there is no hazard to the engine.
Your vehicle may have a seat belt warning light and/or a buzzer. Some modern vehicles continue to sound the warning intermittently as you drive if a sensor detects weight on a seat without the matching seat belt fastened.
This is a safety feature in case you are forgetful. Perhaps you rely on this feature. Perhaps this feature was not working properly on the day you got your ticket.
Considerations you Make before Simply Paying the Ticket
According to Virginia’s driver seat belt law, you will not receive any demerit points on your license if you are cited for not wearing your seat belt. In that case, why not just pay the ticket and get it over with?
There are a few reasons you should speak to a lawyer before paying a ticket for a seat belt violation. First, depending on how many people in your vehicle were not wearing their seat belts at the time, you could be facing multiple citations, in which case the fine will be much higher than $25.
Second, your auto insurance company could learn about a seat belt violation, which means your premiums could increase when your policy is up for renewal, and your insurer examines your driving record. If you can avoid having the seat belt violation on your driving record, your insurance premiums should stay the same.