Stop For Those School Buses
School is about to start, which of course means more school buses will be on the road. School buses make frequent stops and often drive slower than the posted speed limit.
If you see a bus stopped, with flashing lights and stop sign extended, you must stop to let the children get off the bus. In Virginia, not stopping for the bus can be charged as reckless driving (a Class 1 misdemeanor) pursuant to Virginia Code 46.2-859. Reckless driving is a serious crime with a potential fine of $2500 and a possible jail sentence of up to 12 months. Reckless driving also carries 6 DMV points and stays on your driving record for 11 years.
However, passing a stopped school bus can also be charged as a crime under Virginia Code 46.2-844, which is only a minor traffic infraction with a fine of $250.00. You still receive 6 points on your driving record, but it only stays on your record for 3 years. Obviously the code sections have very different penalties – one is a criminal misdemeanor charge, and one is a traffic ticket.
The police officer has a lot of discretion when he or she charges someone for passing a school bus. So, if you are pulled over for it, be polite! But the best course of action – stop for those school buses.