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Feds offer Wisconsin $20 million to ticket drivers for just no seat belts

For years, Wisconsin legislators have refused to let police ticket drivers just for not wearing their seat belts.

But the federal government is offering millions to get lawmakers to change their tunes.

The state could get $15-20 million if they change the law by next July 1, and allow what's known as "primary enforcement."

Right now, police must find another violation to give a seat-belt ticket, and then, it's only $10-dollars with no surcharges.

Federal money was offered in the last session, too, but legislators chose not to take it.

Milwaukee lawmakers thought primary enforcement would make police stop more blacks because of their race. Rep. Leon Young, D-Milwaukee, says he'd only support primary enforcement if the Department of Transportation collects racial data on those ticketed.

Some legislators see primary enforcement and the extra money from it as a way to help pay for new highways.

The gas tax fund is getting less because folks are driving less.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Population Health Institute says primary seat-belt enforcement would save up to 73 lives a year.

The State Patrol says Wisconsin is among the bottom 10 states in seat-belt use. Almost 68,000 drivers in Wisconsin got seat-belt tickets last year.