Law: Cops aren't required to wear seat belt in patrol car

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News 12 11pm / Saturday, June 14, 2014

seat belt
Seat belts are now required in pickup trucks in Georgia. Georgia was the last state to enact such a law. (June 4, 2010 / WRDW-TV)

Augusta, Ga. (WRDW) --You might have to wear it, but not every driver has to. The law says first responders do not have to wear seat belts when riding in a patrol car. A lieutenant tells News 12 a seat belt can mean the difference between life or death when responding to calls

You see the commercial on tv, signs on the road, but the "click it or ticket" law doesn't apply to every driver.

"First responders and emergency vehicles are exempt from that seat belt law," Lieutenant Ramone Lamkin, a supervisor for the Richmond County Traffic Division told News 12.

He says everyone, including himself, should wear a seat belt, but for emergency response officers, sometimes it's better not to if they're responding to a call.

"Proactive patrolling or if I'm about to do a traffic stop, I have that seat belt out. That seat belt can mean life or death for me if I can't get out of the vehicle fast enough," Lt. Lamkin told News 12.

Friday night Richmond County Deputy Tiffany Justice hit a tree, flipped her car and was almost completely thrown out of it. She was on her way to help out another deputy, but wasn't wearing a seat belt. News 12 viewers wrote on Facebook the deputies should know better, but Lt. Lamkin says when a cop comes to help you, every second counts.

"When you are out there patrolling in a proactive manner, some officers take it off so they can move quicker, react faster without having that seat belt on," he said.

Lamkin says deputies usually wear seat belts, but drivers should always wear them.

"Some of our fatalities probably could've been avoided if the person would've had their seat belt on. So, seat belts are very important," he said.

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