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No seat belt in that sleigh, St. Nick? Expect no breaks, big guy.

Police with U.S. Army Europe are reminding everyone that Christmastime is no time to drive without seat belts.

To that cheery effect, military police will be on the lookout for those who take to base roads unrestrained. German police will also check drivers off-post. The measures are part of the ongoing “Click It Or Ticket” campaign.

“The aim is to prevent the deaths and serious injuries that result from people not wearing their seat belts,” said Lt. Col. Kathleen M. Doran, chief of law enforcement operations at the headquarters’ Office of the Provost Marshal.

“Winter driving conditions increase the risk to drivers and passengers, and when people wear their seat belts they can reduce that risk.”

The Army began its campaign on July 4 with the holiday question: Do you want to buckle up, or be banned from driving for at least a week? Some chose the latter.

According the Army, one out of the 29 drivers checked that weekend wound up with a citation.

The military believes soldiers have since gotten the message: Over the Labor Day weekend, one out of every 64 drivers checked was ticketed; and only one out of every 157 drivers checked was ticketed over the Veterans Day weekend.

All told, police have checked 50,607 vehicles and issued 861 citations for failure to buckle up. Only 25 of these tickets were for second-time offenses.

Drivers are also penalized if their passengers don’t wear seat belts, or in the case of little ones, a child’s car seat.

A first-time offender loses driving privileges for seven days. A second-time offender loses driving privileges for 30 days and receives a letter of counseling. Third-time offenders lose their licenses for 180 days.

Repeat offenders can be banned from driving for up to one year.

Each offense adds two traffic points to the offender’s driving record.

German authorities also charge a 30 euro fine.


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