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New Seatbelt Law in Branson Starts May 1

BRANSON, Mo. -- Starting next week, if you're caught driving without a seatbelt in Branson, you could be fined.

It used to be if Branson police pulled you over for a moving violation and discovered you weren't wearing your seatbelt, you faced a fine, but Tuesday, a new ordinance goes into effect.

"Now with the new ordinance that takes effect May 1st, if we see you without your seatbelt, we can stop you for that violation in and of itself," said Assistant Chief of Police Eric Schmitt.

Schmitt says some have said they think the new ordinance is about police having an excuse to pull people over. 

"I'm going to throw out there..the mere fact that the police department, we're the ones seeking this ordinance, should make you feel comfortable that we're not like that, " Schmitt said,  "Because if we were like that, let's be honest, if I saw you without your seatbelt..'Oh, you weaved..or you were speeding. I could make up a reason right then and there to stop and cite you for the seatbelt. We don't do that."

So, KOLR10 asked some Branson residents what they think about the new seatbelt ordinance and surprisingly, they all shared the same opinion.

"It's for public good, public safety. It doesn't hurt anybody to buckle up. It saves lives," said Chester McCammon.

Kristin Heffron agrees. "It doesn't bother me that it's going into effect.I think it does save lives. I think it keeps people from being ejected from the vehicle. I think it keeps them away from the....the thing that comes out of the, the ..airbag. That thing that comes out." 

"I feel it's very..a very good thing," said Mike Eischens.

"We have lost four people that were either High School students, or had just left the High School within the last year," Schmitt said. "I'm sorry, five of them that we've lost... four of which were not wearing their seatbelts. And we know a few of them would have just walked away had they just been wearing their seatbelts." 

The fine for not wearing a seatbelt in Branson is $10.

However, this is not a statewide law. In Missouri, police cannot pull you over on a seatbelt violation alone.


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