Drivers, readers outraged over seat-belt tickets in Tampa Bay
Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies issued more than 200 seat-belt tickets Tuesday, the first day a new state law allowed officers to stop drivers solely because they aren't buckled up.
We know drivers were angry: Sheriff's Cpl. Ed Raburn told St. Petersburg Times reporter Kim Wilmath "I had a grown 50-something-year-old man cry (crocodile) tears to me this morning."
Maurice Elder explained that he wasn't buckled up because he was only a couple of minutes from home. No dice, he still got the $101 ticket.
Tampabay.com readers were outraged, too. More than 140 comments have been posted with the story so far, making it one of the most commented on tampabay.com today. Readers criticized police "for not fighting real crime" and the politicians who enacted the law.
A sampling of readers' reaction:
You can ride a motorcycle, without a helmet if you want, but the fact that you can ride one period and it is against the law not to wear a seat belt makes no sense," commented Kelly from Brooksville. "This is just a money maker."
"Don't these lazy cops have anything better to do?" asked Josh from Tampa Bay. "There are murderers and rapists running free but the cops are looking for people not wearing a seat belt. Pathetic. These cops should be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves."
LS from Tampa called on readers to take action: "We need to check who voted for this law and show our appreciation during the next election. These people have no regard to personal freedom."
"It is not for me to ask why, it is but for me to comply, comply, comply," wrote Tom from Seminole. "I will just sit on my hands and await further instructions from our authoritarian authorities."
A Tampa resident offered some perspective: "In 1989, my car was t-boned at 20 mph, flipping my minivan 3 times, breaking my back & hospitalizing me for 2 months. Should have worn my seatbelt on that half-mile trip from my house to the drugstore. Buckle up. Be safe."
Join the discussion: Waste of cops' time or protecting the public?