According to reports out of Cartersville, a driver has been arrested for passing a stopped school bus and almost hitting a 15-year-old student who was attempting to cross the road to get to the bus. The bus driver stated that the caution lights and stop arm were activated.
The bus driver saw the truck coming and blared the bus' horn to alert the student. The student stepped in front of the bus just in the knick of time.
As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I will outline the offense of unlawful passing of a school bus in today's post.
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:
(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.
(c) Every school bus driver who observes a violation of subsection (a) of this Code section is authorized and directed to record specifically the vehicle description, license number of the offending vehicle, and time and place of occurrence on forms furnished by the Department of Public Safety. Such report shall be submitted within 15 days of the occurrence of the violation to the local law enforcement agency which has law enforcement jurisdiction where the alleged offense occurred.
This means that once the flashing lights 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. 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. An unlawful passing of a school bus conviction also adds 6 points to a person's driver's license.
Some police officers misunderstand the law in situations where there is a divided highway. If you are cited for passing a school bus in a situation where you were not required to stop, contact our offices now.
As with any other crime, no one should be convicted of an offense where there was no violation of a law. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a serious traffic violation, such as DUI in Georgia, contact a Georgia DUI Attorney now.