Knowing the difference between a primary and a secondary offense is important when it comes to the rights of a driver or a motorcyclist during a stop by a law enforcement officer and the reasons behind a stop.
This article will define and discuss their differences.
What is a primary offense? A primary offense is an offense for which a law enforcement officer can stop a car and issue a citation for violating Chapters 316, 320 or 322 of the Florida Statutes. Some examples of the primary offenses are driving over the speed limit, failure to stop at a stop sign, following another vehicle too closely, or failure to signal a lane change, a front seat adult not wearing a seat belt as of June 30th, 2009, minors not wearing seat belts, among others.
What is a secondary offense? Secondary offense is an offense for which a driver or a passenger can receive a citation but only after a driver has been pulled over for a primary offense. For example, one can receive a ticket for failure to wear a seat belt, which is a secondary offense in Florida, but only after a law enforcement officer pulls a driver over for failure to stop at a stop sign, or another offense which is a primary offense. A driver cannot be pulled over solely for a secondary offense, such as failure to wear a seat belt or failure to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle when a driver appears to be under 21 years of age. Therefore, the fact that a driver is not wearing a seat belt or a helmet cannot be used as a basis to pull him or her over and to initiate an investigation into another violation or a crime, such as DUI. (Please note: as of June 30th, 2009, failure on the part of an adult to wear a seat belt in the front seat will be a primary offense.)
While failure to wear a seat belt by an adult is a secondary offense (untill June 30th, 2009), failure to wear a seat belt by a driver or a passenger under the age of 18 is a primary offense according to Florida Safety Belt Law. In that case, a law enforcement officer may stop a vehicle for that reason alone.
Always stay safe! Although you cannot be pulled over just for not wearing a seat belt (before June 30th, 2009), buckle up every time you are in a car! Wearing a seat belt in a car or a helmet while riding a motorcycle can save your life or reduce injury if you are involved in an accident. Recognizing the importance of the seat belt use, Florida legislators have proposed a law to make failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense. If the law is passed, drivers will be pulled over solely for their failure to wear seat belts. (The law was passed on May 6th, 2009 and will go into effect June 30th, 2009.)
Hello, I am Jeffrey Meldon. As an accident attorney, I strongly believe that public education is the first step in the prevention of an accident or in the recovery from one.
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