New Jersey motorists have known for years that they have to buckle up or face the consequences. Signs that say "Click It or Ticket" are now quite familiar. However, the New Jersey Legislature has recently amended the provisions of the seat belt law to require that all occupants of a passenger automobile, including adults who are seated in the rear, use a seat belt. Under the prior law, adults seated in the rear of a passenger automobile were not required to do so. There are some exceptions, however. The law does not apply to a driver or front seat passenger of:
- A passenger automobile manufactured before July 1, 1966;
- A passenger automobile in which the driver or passenger possesses a written verification from a licensed physician that the driver or passenger is unable to wear a safety seat belt system for physical or medical reasons;
- A passenger automobile which is not required to be equipped with a safety seat belt system under federal law;
- A passenger automobile operated by a rural letter carrier of the United States Postal Service while performing the duties of a rural letter carrier; or
- A passenger automobile which was originally constructed with fewer safety seat belt systems than are necessary to allow the passenger to be buckled.:
The good news is that, as far as enforcement goes, seat belt violations by rear seat passengers are secondary offenses, meaning that police must stop the vehicle for a different violation before issuing a summons and complaint for this offense. The driver also does not pay. Each rear seat passenger 18 years of age or older shall be responsible for any fine imposed. The law takes effect immediately, so be sure to check everyone in your car to be sure they bucked up before you turn the ignition key; you will be doing them a favor if you are later stopped.