If you’ve been issued a ticket for a seatbelt violation, the offence may not be as straightforward as it might seem. When you get a speeding ticket, it means that, at least in the eyes of the issuing officer, you were speeding. But you could get a seatbelt ticket even though you were wearing your seatbelt – and even when the issuing officer agrees you were wearing a seatbelt.
A Brief List of Seatbelt Offences
The rules governing “seat belt assemblies” and their use are outlined in Section 106 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.
- Drivers Must Wear Seat Belts – If your vehicle is equipped with seat belts, drivers must wear them in accordance with the regulations outlined in section 106.
- You Can’t Remove the Seat Belts from a Vehicle – Just in case you thought after reading point 1, that you could just get rid of the seatbelts and avoid a ticket, well, doing so would get you a seatbelt violation.
- Passengers Must Wear Seatbelts – Every passenger in your vehicle who is over 16 years of age must sit in a seating position that is equipped with a seatbelt, and wear the seat belt according to all the seat belt regulations.
- Drivers Responsible for Making Sure that Young Passengers Wear Seat Belts – Passengers who are under 16 years of age must sit in a position that is equipped with a seatbelt and be wearing it, or they must be secured by a child seating or restraint system that is itself secured and meets the regulations for children’s seating.
- Seatbelts Must Be Worn Properly – According to section 106, the regulations for properly wearing a seatbelt are as follows:
A seatbelt assembly shall be worn so that,
(a) the pelvic restraint is worn firmly against the body and across the hips;
(b) the torso restraint, if there is one, is worn closely against the body and over the shoulder and across the chest;
(c) the pelvic restraint, and the torso restraint, if there is one, are securely fastened; and
(d) no more than one person is wearing the seatbelt assembly at any one time.
6. Exceptions – Perhaps most importantly for anyone who has been charged with a seatbelt offence, there are exceptions to the regulations outlined above, including if you have a certificate signed by a legally qualified medical practitioner that you are unable for medical reasons to wear a seatbelt.
A deep understanding of those exceptions and all the provisions of section 106 of the Highway Traffic Act are needed if you are to successfully defend your rights against seatbelt offences. You need the legal advice of a lawyer with experience and expertise in defending against seatbelt tickets so you can minimize the effect it has on your life.
To learn more about protecting yourself against traffic ticket charges, check out our article “What to Do if You Get Caught in a Speed Trap”.