Rhode Island police have a message for motorists: click your seat belt or face a $85 fine.
Local law enforcement throughout the state will start heavily enforcing nighttime seat belt use. Violators will be fined $85 for each person in the vehicle who is not wearing a belt.
and police departments will be teaming up with State Police starting this weekend on enforcing the new initiative. Tiverton Police Lt. Patrick Jones said they will be out at 7 p.m. Friday night enforcing nighttime seat belt use.
Little Compton Police Chief Sidney Wordell said, like last year, they will be participating in the nighttime "ramp up" effort going into the spring.
Wordell said it is obviously much easier during the day to determine if someone is wearing their belt and the night time effort will be at key locations where lighting provides assistance in enforcements efforts.
"Most often our first contacts with drivers results in a warning, however sometimes citations are the only way to get drivers to comply with the law," he said.
According to DOT, 79 percent of vehicle fatalities in Rhode Island occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. In those crashes, nearly three-fourths of motorists were killed for not wearing their seatbelts.
The campaign will be the second law enforcement effort conducted under the state's new primary seat belt law. Enacted last June, the statue allows police to fine drivers at any time for not buckling up. Under the prior law, drivers had to be pulled over for another offense before they could be ticketed for not wearing a restraint.
Dan Converse supports the law and spoke from personal experience. The Barrington resident lost his son Jonathan Converse on Nov. 5, 2007 after he was thrown out of a car. The 16-year-old was not wearing a seatbelt. Alcohol use was involved by those in the vehicle.
"I support this law," he said at a Wednesday press conference at the Taunton Avenue Park and Ride surrounded by police officers from communities across Rhode Island. "I would not be standing here if he took one, two seconds to click his seatbelt."