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Missouri Lawmakers Consider Letting Cops Pull Drivers Over for Not Wearing Seat Belts

February 22, 2000
By: Missy Shelton
State Capital Bureau

Missouri lawmakers consider allowing police officers to pull drivers over for not wearing a seat belt.

Missy Shelton has more from the state capitol.

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Jill Street of Kansas City didn't have her seat belt on when she was in a car accident 8 years ago.

She's now confined to a wheel chair.

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Street and three others who also suffered serious injuries from car accidents because they weren't wearing seat belts appeared at a recent legislative hearing.

At the hearing, lawmakers heard testominy on a bill allowing cops to pull drivers over for not wearing their seat belts.

Right now, cops can't pull you over for not wearing a seat belt, there has to be some other violation.

State officials estimate only about 60 percent of Missourians wear seat belts.

Governor Mel Carnahan says a change in law would increase that percentage.

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But there are those who aren't swayed by the testimony and statistics.

Representative Ken Legan of Southwest Missouri has his own story.

His wife survived an accident and she wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

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Legan says because of what happened to his wife, he's hesitant to vote for a bill that would compel drivers to always wear their seat belts.

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And there are other concerns...Representative Carson Ross says giving police officers another opportunity to pull people over could exacerbate racial profiling.

That's where cops pull over racial minorities simply because of their ethnicity and make up a bogus reason for making them stop.

Ross says he wants the bill to have a section addressing profiling.

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The sponsor of the bill Representative Don Kissell says he will support Ross's proposal to add a section about racial profiling.

Despite the governor's endorsement of the bill, Kissell says it will be an uphill battle to gain approval.

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