On Tuesday, Aug. 11, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new law requiring all passengers in motor vehicles to wear seat belts, regardless of age. The new law will take effect on Nov. 1.
The governor’s late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo signed New York State’s first seat belt law in 1984. NY was one of the last states to do so.
Prior to the signing of S.4336/A.6163, passengers aged 16 or older only had to wear a seat belt in the front passenger seat. Those in the back seats were only required to wear a seat belt if they were 15 years old or younger.
“We’ve known for decades that seat belts save lives and with this measure we are further strengthening our laws and helping to prevent needless tragedies,” said Gov. Cuomo in a statement. “It was under my father’s leadership that New York became the first state in the country to pass a seat belt law, and the nation followed his lead. Now we are building upon this legacy and helping to create a safer and stronger Empire State for all.”
Data from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee shows that 30% of highway deaths in the state involve those not wearing seat belts at the time of an accident.
According to preliminary data from the DMV, nearly 3.5 million seat belt tickets were written in 2019. Early data also shows more than 750,000 seat belt tickets have been issued in 2020 so far. The new law has the potential to cause a surge in seat belt tickets statewide.
The new law updates VTL 1229-c3 to apply to passengers in back seats over the age of 15. Under this law, a person can be fined up to $50, plus a mandatory state surcharge of either $88 or $93. There are no points for this kind of ticket. However, under VTL 1229-c2, if a passenger is under 16 and not wearing a seat belt or proper child restraint, the driver can be fined up to $100 plus the surcharge and incur 3 points on his/her license.