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Click It or Ticket enforcement effort cites 43 unbelted Douglas County motorists

During the October statewide Click It or Ticket enforcement effort, out of more than 100 vehicle stops, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Alexandria Police Department issued 43 seat belt and two child restraint citations.

Around 400 law enforcement agencies statewide participated in the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety enforcement effort aimed at increasing seat belt and child restraint use among motorists. Each year in Minnesota, unbelted motorists account for more than one-half of all motorist deaths.

"Enforcing seat belt use is not just the job of law enforcement; it's up to every motorist to speak up and tell your passengers to belt up. Unbelted motorists are not just endangering themselves. In a crash, an unbelted passenger can slam into and injure others in the vehicle," said Douglas County Sheriff Brandon Chaffins.

During the last three years (2007-2009) in Minnesota, more than 1,000 motorists were killed in crashes and only 43 percent were buckled up.

During the campaign, officers enforced the state's primary seat belt law that requires passengers in all seating positions, including the back seat, to be buckled up or seated in the correct child restraint. Law enforcement officers will stop and ticket motorists for seat belt violations, including unbelted passengers.

Special nighttime belt patrols conducted during the campaign resulted in eight citations. Both agencies focused on nighttime patrols to combat a disproportionate number of unbelted traffic deaths during nighttime hours.

The campaign also included enforcement of Minnesota's strengthened child passenger safety law that requires children to be in the correct restraint until they are age 8 and 4 feet 9 inches tall. This law requires booster seats for kids, usually starting at age 4, to ensure adult seat belts fit them correctly.

Any questions related to car seats and booster seats can be directed to Deputy Sheriff Bob Peper and Officer Jim Gripne. Both are trained in this area and can answer your questions.

According to Deputy Chaffins, "Deputies and officers saw a high rate of seat belt and child restraint use, making the total number of citations issued lower than past enforcement periods. This is a great problem to have because this means area motorists are wearing their seat belts."