Ask a Trooper: Can driver get ticketed for unbelted passengers?

Deaths rising in Minnesota among unbelted motorists.

Sgt. Jesse Grabow

Question: As the driver, if a passenger under age 18 riding in my vehicle fails to wear their seatbelt, could I get a ticket? I’ve heard that insurance companies won’t cover injuries from car accidents where seatbelts weren’t worn – is that true?

Answer: Every person in a vehicle needs to be wearing a seat belt. Every person, every seat, every time. Anyone ages 15 and older can receive a citation for not wearing a seat belt. The driver can be cited for passengers under the age of 15 who are not wearing their seat belt.

As for the insurance companies, I would ask them what their policies are regarding seat belt use and crashes.

Thankfully, most Minnesotans are making the life-saving decision to buckle up, but it’s discouraging to see unbelted deaths in Minnesota outpacing previous years. Preliminary reports show 38 unbelted motorists died as of May 21 compared with 25 this time last year, a 52 percent increase.

This follows a deadly 2020 when 112 unbelted motorists died on Minnesota roads compared to 73 in 2019. The 112 unbelted motorist deaths in 2020 were also the highest since 2012 (116).


Law enforcement statewide will be conducting extra seat belt patrols May 24 through June 6 to stop the growing loss of life. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the campaign with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

There are many excuses for not wearing a seat belt, but none of them will save your life.

Send questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota to: Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol , 1000 Highway 10 W., Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. Follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at

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