Nowadays, motor vehicles have become an indispensable tool in our society. There are even people who consider their vehicle to be an essential tool to earn a living. However, every time someone gets behind the wheel or sits as a passenger in someone else's vehicle, they put their health or life at risk. Unfortunately, there is a significantly high number of people who die or are seriously injured every year because of motor vehicle accidents. This is why the government requires all drivers/passengers to wear their seat belts when the vehicle is in motion. This obligation is found in section 395 of the Highway Safety Code. The consequences of this offence consist of a fine that can vary between $200 and $300 and 3 demerit points.
It is important to know that it is not enough to simply fasten your seat belt. In order to comply with this obligation imposed by the law, it is necessary, as the article indicates, to wear one's belt correctly. But what do we mean by putting on your belt "correctly"? After analyzing the jurisprudence on the matter, it has been found that in order for your seat belt to be put on properly one part of the belt must pass in front of your hip and the other part of the belt must pass over your shoulder and diagonally on your torso. The fact that wearing a seat belt makes you uncomfortable or if you happen to have pain in your arm, does not give you the right not to wear your seat belt properly.
As mentioned above, if you do not wear your seat belt “correctly”, you risk obtaining a ticket under section 395 of the Highway Safety Code. It is also important to mention that the exception that previously allowed taxi and Uber drivers not to wear seat belts has been banned. Therefore, they are now required to wear their seat belts properly just like other drivers on the road.
Each person is responsible for wearing their own seat belt properly. This also means that every person who does not wear a seat belt is liable to receive a ticket, whether they hold a driver's licence or not. Please note, however, that there is an exception to this rule. The driver of the vehicle is responsible for children under the age of 16 who do not wear their seat belts. If a police officer finds that the child under the age of 16 is not wearing a seat belt properly, the driver may be ticketed whether they are the child’s legal guardian or not.
There are several exceptions to the obligation of wearing a seat belt. Here are the most common examples:
- The obligation under section 395 of the Highway Safety Code exists only when driving on public highways or roads submitted or maintained by the administration of the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune. This means that we do not have to wear a seatbelt on private lots such as driveways, store or gas station parking lots, etc.;
- To avoid accidents, the government has allowed the seat belt to be removed when the driver of a vehicle performs a reversing manoeuvre. Be aware though that as soon as you put the vehicle in forward motion, you must put your seat belt back on;
- An injury may prevent us from wearing our belts. On the other hand, a person exempted from wearing a seat belt by the SAAQ for health reasons must first obtain a certificate from the SAAQ. This certificate must be shown to the police officer if you are arrested, at the risk of being fined for not wearing a seat belt;
- Passengers on a public transport bus;
- Some heavy vehicles allow belts that only pass over our hips.
If you have received a ticket for wearing your seat belt incorrectly, please contact our lawyers. It would be our pleasure to assist you in your legal procedures.