Can You Go to Jail for Passing a School Bus?
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Yes. You can go to jail for passing a school bus. The jail will be improbable if you have a spotless driving history and no extenuating factors.
Although it is unlikely, it is possible to end up in prison. However, you are more likely to get a citation in the mail since bus drivers are sometimes instructed to record the license plates of everybody who passes the bus. Most buses now have cameras to capture who passed them and allow for subsequent inspection if the driver could not take your license plate down. You are generally safe if you do not get a ticket for 30 days.
In America, it’s uncommon to travel in the morning or afternoon without seeing a school bus. We have all been stuck behind one at some time. Although it may be inconvenient to wait behind a school bus on your way to work, you should be aware that passing a parked school bus carries a severe penalty.
According to all state laws, you must expressly stop for a halted school bus that is flashing its stop signal. This is also true if the vehicle is stopped and flashing red signals while taking up or dropping off people.
The enforcement of this is also prioritized by police enforcement, who routinely issue tickets for overtaking a halted school bus without permission.
Additionally, most prosecutors in American jurisdictions are hesitant to agree to lesser charges out of concern about possible bad press. Come along as we highlight more on this below.
Types of Offenses for Passing a School Bus
Some Types of offenses for passing a school bus include:
Class 1 misdemeanor
You will be punished with a Class 1 misdemeanor if you are accused of passing a parked school bus in contravention of G.S. 20-217, but you did not cause any accidents or injuries. The least severe passing a school bus infraction is this one. The punishment is a fine of $500.00 and a maximum penalty of one hundred twenty (120) days in prison. Sadly, paying the fee for passing a school bus is required.
Class I felony
A motorist will be charged with a Class I felony if they recklessly pass a parked school bus and hits a person as a consequence. The second-least severe felony under the bus legislation is a Class I offense. The maximum prison term for a Class I felony is 24 months.
Class H felony
A Class H felony is committed by a motorist who willfully passes a parked school bus in contravention of G.S. 20-217 and strikes someone, killing them. The maximum sentence for a Class H felony is 39 months in jail.
Penalties for Passing a School Bus
Regardless if you have a spotless driving record, passing a school bus might result in severe penalties. This is because it is one of the few accusations that judges and prosecutors find emotionally upsetting.
This is true since the legislation is intended to safeguard children among our society’s most vulnerable members.
The Penalties for passing a school bus include the following:
On a guilty finding, the crime of receiving a ticket for passing a parked school bus carries a required conviction.
Appearance in court
You must appear in court before a judge because you received a ticket for passing a halted school bus.
Requirement of license suspension
Your driver’s license will be banned if you are found guilty of passing a school bus that is stopped.
Minimum suspension of 3 months
Based on your driving history, you might have your license suspended for three months to a year after being found guilty.
Depending on your driving history, a minimum fine of $300 or $1000 is assessed for passing a stopped school bus.
State-Specific Laws for Passing a School Bus
The State-specific laws for passing a school bus have been highlighted in the table below.
|Alaska||A school bus must be stopped at least 30 feet from the driver. You cannot go forward until the bus has moved on and the flashes have gone out.||Class B infraction. Up to a $2,000 fine and 90 days in prison.|
|Colorado||A school bus must be stopped at least 20 feet from the driver.||A fine of $150 to $300 or up to 90 days in jail are possible punishments. A fine from $300 and $1,000 and/or a term of incarceration between 10 days and one year may be imposed for a second violation within a five-year window.|
|Connecticut||A school bus must be stopped at least 10 feet from the driver. You can’t go on until the bus’s strobing lights stop.||$450 in fines for first-time offenders. Any more violations will result in a $500 to $1,000 fine and/or up to 30 days in prison. Your driving record will also get four (4) points.|
|Washington, D.C.||A school bus must be stopped at least 15 feet from the driver. You cannot go forward until the bus moves on and the blinking lights are turned off.||4 points and a $500 fine are added to the driver’s record.|
|Hawaii||When approaching a school bus on a freeway or road in a residential district, drivers must halt at least 25 feet away.||A $500 maximum fine and/or community service.|
|Illinois||A school bus must be stopped at least 20 feet from the driver.||A $150 fine and a three-month license suspension are imposed for the first violation. A $500 fine and a driving ban of up to a year are imposed for the second violation within a 5-year window.|
|Louisiana||A school bus must be stopped at least 30 feet from the driver.||$100 to $500 in fines or up to six months in jail. After a first offense, a license is suspended for 30 days; after a second offense, for 60 days; and after a third offense, for a year.|
|Maryland||A school bus must be at least 20 feet away from the driver.||A $1,000 maximum fine and three points are added to one’s driving record.|
|Michigan||A school bus must be stopped at least 20 feet from the driver. You can’t go forward until the bus starts moving again or the visual signs stop working.||$100 to $500 in fines, with the possibility of up to 100 hours of community work at a school Assessment of three (3) points against a driver’s record.|
|South Dakota||Drivers are required to pull over at least 15 feet from a school bus.||Class 2 infraction. 30 days in prison and/or a fine of up to $500.|
Jurisdictions where passing a school bus is a criminal offense
The Jurisdictions where passing a school bus is a criminal offense include:
What steps can you take to avoid passing a school bus
Some steps you can take to avoid passing a school bus include:
When driving beside a school bus, be patient.
- If you’re following the school bus, maintain a safe distance.
- Keep an eye out for kids.
- Prepare for stops.
- Halt for a school bus with flashing red lights or an extensive halt sign.
- Slow down if the bus’s yellow lights are flashing. This is a sign that it is stopping and slowing down.
- Pay attention to hand gestures from bus drivers.
What to do if you are caught passing a school bus
If you are found passing a school bus, speak with a qualified attorney who has successfully contested charges of this kind in the past. It might still negatively impact your insurance and license, even if it is just a traffic violation. Fight for your rights if you believe the accusation was unjust. Nobody will defend you if you don’t do it first.
What to do if you are in an accident while passing a school bus?
If you are involved in an accident while passing a school bus, take the following steps:
Remain on the scene and provide aid
Safety needs to come first after a bus collision. To ensure that emergency professionals can reach you as soon as possible, call 911 to report the accident. This
Start accumulating data and proof as soon as you can. While you’re still on the scene, you may perform this action, which might affect how your case turns out. Take pictures of the incident, the involved cars, and any obvious injuries.
Speak with a doctor
If you are hurt in a major accident, you should get medical help.
Maintain Complete Records
Documents of the bus accident should be maintained orderly and secure, including receipts, bills, memos, and other papers.
Speak with a personal injury lawyer
Claims involving bus accidents are more complex. All are challenging. You’ll run against resistance. Therefore, a lawyer is ideally suited to defend your interests, so you may begin to mend and move on.
Due to their frequent pauses and tendency to travel at slower, steadier speeds than other automobiles, school buses may tempt some motorists to pass them. Nevertheless, passing school buses is subject to specific legislation in every state. These regulations guarantee the security of kids being loaded and unloaded.
This article describes the fundamental requirements of state legislation and the consequences of overtaking a school bus illegally. Thus, it’s best to adhere to them as highlighted above.
I’m a driven and accomplished law graduate and post-graduate, passionate about sharing my legal expertise via my blog. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of London (UK) and a Master’s in Law from the University of Derby (UK). Both gave me the foundational knowledge and skills to excel in my chosen career path.
Throughout my academic journey, I have gained extensive knowledge in various fields of Law, including Corporate and Business Law in the USA, Criminal Law, International Law, US Copyright law, and most importantly, American Constitutional law.