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Overtaking a school bus can put your license at risk

On Behalf of | Jul 4, 2024 | Criminal Law |

Thousands of children across New Jersey rely on school buses for daily safe transportation. Unfortunately, these large and slow-moving vehicles often cause traffic congestion, frustrating some drivers. But if you fail or miss yielding to a stopped school bus, New Jersey laws may regard you as a serious threat to student safety.

What constitutes a school bus-related traffic violation

The law mandates that drivers must stop when approaching a stopped bus designed solely for transporting children to and from school, school activities or summer day camps.

A school bus flashing red lights signals its intention to pick up or drop off passengers. This means drivers on the same side of the road as the bus must come to a complete stop at least 25 feet away, regardless of whether children are present at the roadside. Drivers approaching from the opposite direction on a divided highway may proceed cautiously, but only at a speed of 10 miles per hour or below.

Legal consequences await suspected violators

Overtaking a school bus falls under the passing of a school bus charge with potentially severe penalties. A first offense can result in:

  • Paying at least $100 in fines.
  • Addition of five points to your license (12 or more points can lead to suspension).
  • Up to 15 days of imprisonment.
  • Up to 15 days of community service.

Penalties for subsequent offenses can become even harsher. A conviction can also lead to higher car insurance premiums.

There are ways to protect your license

Taking proactive steps can decrease the improper passing of a school bus charge to unsafe or careless driving, which is preferable. You can argue that the bus did not have its lights on, all children were already safely away from the street or that an emergency prompted you to pass the bus. Compelling evidence may be necessary. Drivers who seek legal help as quickly as possible typically have better chances of defending themselves against such charges.