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Agencies focus on seatbelt law

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
If saving lives was not a good enough reason, drivers in Atmore have another good excuse to buckle up.
This week, the Atmore Police Department and the Escambia County Sheriff's Office have come down on drivers who do not wear seat belts. Checkpoints were set up at various locations throughout the city and county to bring attention to Alabama's seatbelt law.
The initiative is a part of a state-wide "Click-It or Ticket" campaign. During this campaign, police officers will be paid overtime by a state grant to volunteer extra time to work on seatbelt awareness.
From May 22 through May 31, the APD conducted five seat belt checkpoints throughout the city. Among the many citations issued, 229 were issued seatbelt violation warnings, 80 were given seatbelt violation tickets, five were issued child restraint warnings and 10 were given child restraint tickets.
The checkpoints also resulted in a number of other citations and arrests. One driver was charged with driving under the influence, 63 were given driver's license violations warnings, one was given a ticket for having no insurance, 18 were given equipment violation tickets, 15 were given insurance warnings, 14 were given equipment violation warnings, two felony arrest warrants were served and two misdemeanor arrest warrants were served as a result of the checkpoints.
The program is not over either. APD Assistant Police Chief Donnie Nunley said there will be checkpoints set up through the weekend and that the grant will continue to provide funds for checkpoints for seatbelt and other traffic violations through October.
Nunley said he has already seen an impact as a result of the checks.
Nunley said he hoped the trend would continue.
The law states that each front seat occupant of a passenger car manufactured with safety belts in compliance with state regulations should have the belt properly fastened about the body at all times when the vehicle is in motion. In addition, every person transporting a child under the age of six years should provide for the protection of the child by properly using a child passenger restraint system.
ECSO Major Mike Murphy said the goal is much bigger than writing a lot of tickets and that other violations will also get a share of the attention.
Warnings and citations issued by the ECSO will be printed in an upcoming edition of The Advance.