Washington’s Seat Belt Law
Safety belts, use required — Penalties — Exemptions.
(1) For the purposes of this section, the term "motor vehicle" includes:
(a) "Buses," meaning motor vehicles with motive power, except trailers, designed to carry more than ten passengers;
(b) "Multipurpose passenger vehicles," meaning motor vehicles with motive power, except trailers, designed to carry ten persons or less that are constructed either on a truck chassis or with special features for occasional off-road operation;
(c) "Neighborhood electric vehicle," meaning a self-propelled, electrically powered four-wheeled motor vehicle whose speed attainable in one mile is more than twenty miles per hour and not more than twenty-five miles per hour and conforms to federal regulations under 49 C.F.R. Sec. 571.500;
(d) "Medium-speed electric vehicle" meaning a self-propelled, electrically powered four-wheeled motor vehicle, equipped with a roll cage or crush-proof body design, whose speed attainable in one mile is more than thirty miles per hour but not more than thirty-five miles per hour and otherwise meets or exceeds the federal regulations set forth in 49 C.F.R. Sec. 571.500;
(e) "Passenger cars," meaning motor vehicles with motive power, except multipurpose passenger vehicles, motorcycles, or trailers, designed for carrying ten passengers or less; and
(f) "Trucks," meaning motor vehicles with motive power, except trailers, designed primarily for the transportation of property.
(2) This section only applies to motor vehicles that meet the manual seat belt safety standards as set forth in federal motor vehicle safety standard 208 and to neighborhood electric vehicles and medium-speed electric vehicles. This section does not apply to a vehicle occupant for whom no safety belt is available when all designated seating positions as required by federal motor vehicle safety standard 208 are occupied.
(3) Every person sixteen years of age or older operating or riding in a motor vehicle shall wear the safety belt assembly in a properly adjusted and securely fastened manner.
(4) No person may operate a motor vehicle unless all child passengers under the age of sixteen years are either: (a) Wearing a safety belt assembly or (b) are securely fastened into an approved child restraint device.
(5) A person violating this section shall be issued a notice of traffic infraction under chapter 46.63 RCW. A finding that a person has committed a traffic infraction under this section shall be contained in the driver's abstract but shall not be available to insurance companies or employers.
(6) Failure to comply with the requirements of this section does not constitute negligence, nor may failure to wear a safety belt assembly be admissible as evidence of negligence in any civil action.
(7) This section does not apply to an operator or passenger who possesses written verification from a licensed physician that the operator or passenger is unable to wear a safety belt for physical or medical reasons.
(8) The state patrol may adopt rules exempting operators or occupants of farm vehicles, construction equipment, and vehicles that are required to make frequent stops from the requirement of wearing safety belts.
[2007 c 510 § 5; 2003 c 353 § 4; 2002 c 328 § 2; (2002 c 328 § 1 expired July 1, 2002); 2000 c 190 § 3; 1990 c 250 § 58; 1986 c 152 § 1.]
Effective date -- 2007 c 510: See note following RCW 46.04.320.
Effective date -- 2003 c 353: See note following RCW 46.04.320.
Expiration date -- 2002 c 328 § 1: "Section 1 of this act expires July 1, 2002." [2002 c 328 § 3.]
Effective date -- 2002 c 328 § 2: "Section 2 of this act takes effect July 1, 2002." [2002 c 328 § 4.]
Intent -- Short title -- Effective date -- 2000 c 190: See notes following RCW 46.61.687.
Severability -- 1990 c 250: See note following RCW 46.16.301.
Study of effectiveness -- 1986 c 152: "The traffic safety commission shall undertake a study of the effectiveness of section 1 of this act and shall report its finding to the legislative transportation committee by January 1, 1989." [1986 c 152 § 3.]
Physicians -- Immunity from liability regarding safety belts: RCW 4.24.235.
Seat belts and shoulder harnesses, required equipment: RCW 46.37.510.