Robert R. Hart, Jr., Attorney at Law
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Passing a school bus with flashing red lights

People in Ohio take the safety of their children seriously. Even if you drive safely most of the time, one mistake in a school zone or near a playground could mean disaster. This is why traffic violations that put children in harm's way may incur serious penalties.

One violation in particular often brings swift justice in a courtroom because of its danger to children. If you ignore or disobey the flashing red lights of a stopped school bus, you may end up facing a judge.

The law for busses picking up or dropping off children

The rules for school bus safety are fairly consistent in most states. These laws have been enforced and modified for decades. Most people know to stop when the red lights on the front and back of a stopped school bus begin to flash.

There are other regulations with which you may be less familiar. When a bus is stopped with its lights flashing, you must do the following:

  • Stop whether you approach the bus in front or behind.
  • Stop your vehicle at least ten feet from the front or back of the bus.
  • Do not move your vehicle until the bus moves or the bus driver signals you to pass.
  • Continue driving if the bus is stopped on the opposite side of a divided highway or a highway with four or more lanes.

If a school bus driver fails to extend the stop warning sign, you cannot use this as a justification for passing a bus when its red lights are flashing.

The penalties and your options

Because of the potential danger to children, bus drivers and law enforcement take it seriously if a driver passes a bus when children are boarding or disembarking. In some school districts, busses have cameras that may record you passing while stop lights are flashing. If you are caught and found guilty, you may face any of the following penalties:

  • A fine of up to $500
  • Immediate forfeiture of your driver's license to the court
  • Suspension of your license for up to a year

If you receive a citation for passing a stopped school bus, you will not be able to pay a fine and waive your right to fight the charge. The law requires you to show up in court to answer the citation. If this happens, you may benefit from having a lawyer at your side.

Losing your license may seriously hinder your ability to travel to and from work, transport your children to their activities and complete many of the tasks your daily life may require of you. Having an attorney to defend your rights may protect you from these serious consequences.

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