WHAT TO DO....
...IF YOU'RE COMING UPON A SCHOOL BUS!
Its that time of year again! Happy and excited parents are sending off their little angels back to school. For many, it is their first time riding the big, magical, yellow school bus. For others, it's a normal routine that's no longer a big deal.
For the everyday drivers who have become accustomed to a lighter traffic load for the last 3 month summer hiatus, it can be a frustrating, hair-pulling, aggravating time when you're behind a school bus.
Regardless, illegally passing a school bus in Georgia is a serious traffic offense – the safety risk to children is not something that judges and prosecutors look lightly upon and the punishment can be quite surprising to many drivers. More than likely, you will receive a ticket for "Unlawful Passing of School Bus".
A conviction to this charge comes with 6 points on your driver's license as well as a minimum $300 fine (not including court costs) for a 1st conviction. A 2nd conviction will be a minimum $750 fine (not including court costs), and a 3rd conviction will carry a $1,000.00 fine. In addition, depending on your driving history, a conviction to this offense could impact your insurance rates as well as potentially cause license suspension.
Statute 40-6-163 of the Official Code of Georgia dictates what the rules of the road are when it comes to passing school buses in Georgia. It is important for all drivers and pedestrians to be cautious always, but especially when it comes to handling a school bus on the road.
§ 40-6-163. Duty of driver of vehicle meeting or overtaking school bus; reporting of violations; enforcement
(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section, the driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus stopped on the highway shall stop before reaching such school bus when there are in operation on the school bus the visual signals as specified in Code Sections 40-8-111 and 40-8-115, and such driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer actuated.
(b) The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with separate roadways need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus which is on a different roadway, or upon a controlled-access highway when the school bus is stopped in a loading zone which is a part of or adjacent to such highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.
What this means is that once a school bus has stopped on the roadway, with it's lights flashing and the “STOP” signs or other visual signals are extended, all driver's must stop and wait until the bus continues on or turns off its lights and other visual signals.
Unfortunately, sometimes drivers are wrongfully cited for this charge. We have seen this occur especially when drivers are traveling in the opposite direction, on the other side of a highway divided by a median. In cases like this, an experienced attorney will know how to fight the charge so that you are not wrongly convicted.
It's important that you speak with an attorney that knows the laws as it relates to school buses and to review your case to determine if in fact you did break the law. In addition, an experienced attorney will have the knowledge and expertise to obtain the best outcome for you.
Lastly, it's extremely important that we all exercise proper common sense as it comes to school buses. No appointment, event, or obligation is more important than the life of a human being, especially a child.
If you or someone you know has been charged with this offense, call us anytime to schedule your free case evaluation.