(a)   A person shall not operate a passenger vehicle on a public street or highway unless the person, any passenger in the back seat under eighteen years of age, and any passenger in the front seat of such passenger vehicle is restrained by a safety belt meeting applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.  For the purposes of this section, "passenger vehicle" means a motor vehicle which is designed for transporting ten passengers or less, including the driver, except that such term does not include a motorcycle, a trailer or any motor vehicle which is not required on the date of the enactment of this section under a federal motor vehicle safety standard to be equipped with a belt system.  The provisions of this section shall apply to all passenger vehicles manufactured after the first day of January, 1967, and being 1968 models and newer.
   (b)   The required use of safety belts as provided herein does not apply to a duly appointed or contracted rural mail carrier of the United States Postal Service who is actually making mail deliveries or to a passenger or operator with a physically disabling condition whose physical disability would prevent appropriate restraint in such safety belt if the condition is duly certified by a physician who shall state the nature of the disability as well as the reason such restraint is inappropriate.
   (c)   A violation of this section is not admissible as evidence of negligence or contributory negligence or comparative negligence in any civil action or proceeding for damages, and shall not be admissible in mitigation of damages:  provided, that the court may, upon motion of the defendant, conduct an in camera hearing to determine whether an injured party's failure to wear a safety belt was a proximate cause of the injuries complained of.  Upon such a finding by the court, the court may then, in a jury trial, by special interrogatory to the jury, determine (1) that the injured party failed to wear a safety belt, and (2) that the failure to wear the safety belt constituted a failure to mitigate damages.  The trier of fact may reduce the injured party's recovery for medical damages by an amount not to exceed five percent (5%) thereof.  In the event the plaintiff stipulates to the reduction of five percent (5%) of medical damages, the court shall make the calculations and the issue of mitigation of damages for failure to wear a safety belt shall not be presented to the jury.  In all cases, the actual computation of the dollar amount reduction shall be determined by the court.
   (d)   Notwithstanding any other provision of this Code to the contrary, no points may be entered on any driver's record maintained by the Division of Motor Vehicles as a result of a violation of this section.
   (e)   Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to abrogate or alter the provisions of Section 345.31 relating to the mandatory use of child passenger safety devices.
(WVaC 17C-15-49)