DUI: "Do I need to wear a seat belt in my pickup truck?"

Question: I never thought I'd get a DUI. But I got stopped in Sandy Springs. I'm not sure if I should have even been stopped. I was driving my Ford F-150 on Roswell Road and I got pulled over by a Sandy Springs police officer. I wasn't even sure why I was stopped. But the cop said that I had to have a seat belt on. I argued with him because I don't think you need to wear a seat belt in your truck. The argument got heated because I thought the cop was wrong. I probably shouldn't have called the cop certain names.

The cop noticed that I had a few empty beer cans and he could smell my breath which did have alcohol because I had been drinking some brews and some rye whiskey. I got out of my pickup and did some tests like walking a line and he looked at my eyes. I did take a breath test at the jail and I was over the limit by a lot.

I'd really like to know if the officer had a right to stop me for not wearing a seat belt in the pickup. What's the law in Georgia? I asked some friends and I got a bunch of different answers. I don't want a DUI and now I have to go to Sandy Springs Municipal Court to answer these charges.

T.D. in Sandy Springs.

Answer: In June of 2010, the exemption for seat belt use for drivers of pickup trucks was ended. Before then, drivers of pickups did not have to wear a seat belt. Georgia's law provides that if you are in a pickup truck, you MUST buckle up your seat belt.

In fact, the law specifies that each occupant of the front seat of a pickup truck shall be restrained by a seat belt while the vehicle is operated on a public road, street, or highway. So if you were driving on a non-public road (for instance on your own property), then you would not be required by law to wear a seat belt.

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