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Sgt. Jesse Grabow: Seatbelts are not required, but recommended, in cars older than 1965

Question: I have a question about the seat belt law in Minnesota.

I own a vintage 1965 Pontiac GTO that was manufactured before Jan. 1, 1965. According to the seat belt law as I read it, this makes my car exempt from the seat belt requirement.

However, after I bought the vehicle, I installed front and rear seat belts. My friend says that because my car is exempt I do not have to wear them and cannot be cited. I do not agree. I think that if you have seat belts, than you must wear them, and can be cited for not wearing them.

Who is correct?

Answer: Thank you for the question and to answer it, your friend is correct. There are a few exemptions from wearing a seatbelt in Minnesota. One of those exemptions states: “a person driving or riding in a passenger vehicle manufactured before January 1, 1965” is exempt.

However, let me commend you on doing the safe and smart thing by installing and wearing the seat belt. More than 100 unbelted motorists and passengers are killed every year on Minnesota roads. We ask everyone to do their part to reduce these preventable tragedies by buckling up, every ride, every time.

  • A seat belt is the best defense on roads full of uncertainties that includes speeding, and distracted and impaired drivers. You may be a safe driver — but is the driver next to you? Buckle up and protect yourself.
  • In a crash, odds are six times greater for injury if a motorist is not buckled up.
  • In rollover crashes, unbelted motorists are usually ejected from the vehicle. In most cases, the vehicle will roll over the ejected motorist.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205.  You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at,