If You Pass a Virginia School Bus, You May Be Subject to Heavy Fines and the Revocation of Your License
To the average driver, passing a school bus may seem like no big deal. After all, you (and the bus driver) are keeping a careful lookout for any kids in the immediate vicinity, so the odds of an accident are extremely slim—especially compared to the time you have to spend waiting, if you're in a hurry. However tempting it may be to zoom past that bus, however, any lawyer will tell you that it's a bad idea, because it can result in a serious misdemeanor charge for reckless driving.
Passing a School Bus Can Cost You Your License—and Your Freedom
We've all had the experience of being late for work, and having the bad luck of getting stuck behind the local elementary-school bus as it makes its morning pickups. In most municipalities, school buses, and even school vans, don't have the luxury of pulling into an expansive driveway and letting other vehicles pass—so the bus stops in the street, and any cars behind it simply have to wait. The reason for this is simple: kids have a way of running across the street without looking first, especially if there's a school bus in the vicinity.
If you're caught passing a stopped school bus—or if you're reported to the police later by the driver—you may be subject to a reckless driving charge, a conviction for which entails the following penalties:
- Six points added to your driving record
- Thousands of dollars of fines
- Possible suspension or revocation of your license
- Possible time in jail
Of course, in these situations, the driver of the bus has certain responsibilities, too. According to Virginia law, the school-bus operator has to make it clear that he's picking up children, usually by unfurling a mechanical “stop sign” and/or flashing his lights. Also, the rear of the bus has to be prominently marked with the words “school bus,” and the bus itself has to be painted bright yellow ('”school-bus yellow” isn't just a cultural cliché, but the law in most jurisdictions).
If You're Caught Passing a School Bus, You Need Expert Legal Representation
Society tends to frown on motorists who pass school buses; after all, you're putting children’s lives and health at risk for the sake of those few moments you don't want to spend waiting. However, many charges of passing school buses are unclear at best, especially if the bus has been stopped for an unusually long period of time or if it's unclear whether the bus is parked or idling on the street. Do you have any questions? Call the experienced traffic attorneys at Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC for a free consultation!