Nothing in this life happens without a reason behind it, as so clearly seen through local Valrico residents Laura and Vincent Marchetti’s recent victory amongst legislatures with the passing of the Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Seat Belt Law.

Having lost their daughter Katie Marchetti, 16, in March of 2006, due to being ejected from her boyfriend’s car after he had fallen asleep at the wheel, the Marchettis have been on a three-year mission to make teens more aware of the consequences faced when driving without a seat belt. That mission has paid off in spades as Governor Charlie Crist signed into law the Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Seat Belt Law, taking effect on Tuesday, June 30.

“It’s a law for everyone – we as adults need to be role models for our kids,” said Laura. “I don’t look at ticketing as a bad thing: I would have rather had my daughter pulled over and ticketed and given the chance to talk about it with her.”

The law gives law enforcement the authority to pull over any motorists not wearing their seat belt, as well as any front-seat passengers, who will receive their own ticket, or minors – those under the age of 18. Currently, drivers can only be ticketed for the offense if they are stopped for another traffic-related violation, transitioning the offense from a secondary offense to a primary offense. Because Florida adopted the new law, it will receive $35.5 million in federal funding which will go towards the restoration of roads and highways. According to Laura, it was the last of the southeastern states to do so.

When signing the bill, Crist stated, “Today I am proud to sign legislation that will help save lives in Florida and prevent serious injuries that otherwise could have been prevented. Nothing is of greater importance than keeping Florida’s citizens and visitors safe.”

Former State Representative Irv Slosberg helped to pass this bill after having lost his 14-year-old daughter Dori to a car accident who was not wearing her seat belt at the time.

“The Dori Slosberg Foundation is thrilled by the passing of the Dori Slosberg & Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law. We know that this will be a life saving bill for the residents and visitors of Florida,” stated Tara Kirschner executive director of The Dori Slosberg Foundation. She added that Slosberg “feels that if this bill was passed prior to 1996 that she [Dori] may still be alive today.”

In the end, Laura holds great gratitude towards the legislators who helped her and her family, saying they “did the right thing. There’s never closure, as that is a personal journey that you travel and deal with alone, but it is a great accomplishment in her [Katie’s] honor. I know she would be proud of this.”

She concludes saying that the state now has a consistent law that will need to be reinforced by education. This is education that each and every person has a responsibility in administering to their family, friends, neighbors, co-workers – basically, anyone who you would like to see again.

For more information, visit http://www.dmvflorida.org/seat-belt-laws.shtml. To learn more about The Katie Marchetti Memorial Foundation, visit www.katiesstory.com. For more regarding The Dori Slosberg Foundation, call 561-488-7900 or visit www.dorislosberg.org.

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Carisa is a Senior News Reporter and Assistant Editor at the Osprey Observer. When she's not at work, she continues to write, working on future projects; hangs out with friends and family, her best friend (aka her husband) and her four dogs.