Atlanta Police were called to the scene of a minor accident at an elementary school this past week. According to reports, a truck sideswiped a school bus on two different occasions while at least 19 students were on board. As of right now, the unidentified truck driver is considered to be at fault.
Georgia takes offenses involving school buses and children very seriously. As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I handle a lot of cases involving school buses. In today's post, I will outline the offense of passing a school bus in our state.
Unlawful Passing of a School Bus in Georgia
Georgia Law defines the unlawful passing of a school bus in Georgia in O.C.G.A. §40-6-163 as:
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, and such driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer actuated.
This means that once the flashing lights on the school bus have turned red and the stop signs have extended from the side of the school bus, it is unlawful for any vehicle to pass the stopped school bus while it is loading or unloading passengers. However, vehicles traveling on a highway divided by a median on the opposite side from the stopped school bus are not required to stop.
The consequences of unlawfully passing a school bus include any lawful punishments allowed in a misdemeanor traffic offense. This can include 12 months in jail or on probation, $1000 in fines, community service, defensive driving school, alcohol and drug counseling, and any other class a judge believes that will correct the driver's behavior.
Moreover, the offense carries 6 points on the driver's license. For drivers under 21 years of age, there will be an automatic 6-month license suspension. For drivers under the age of 18, accumulating 4 total points before age 18 will also result in a 6-month license suspension.
The allegation of the unlawful passing of a school bus can be a predicate crime to a DUI in Georgia. Even on its own, the offense is harshly penalized. If you or a loved one has been accused of a serious traffic violation, contact our offices today.