Tickets for Passing a Stopped School Bus – A Serious Traffic Offense

September 18, 2019

By Jill K. Sanders, Esq.

School is back in session. During your commute, you may see school buses and children at bus stops. For obvious reasons, it’s best to drive safely whenever near a school bus or bus stop.

A bus whose red lights are flashing is one which is picking up or discharging passengers. Yet some drivers don’t heed the flashing red lights and stop signs. In those cases, there are serious traffic penalties if you are convicted of Passing a Stopped School Bus.


What is the Law?

Pursuant to New York’s Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1174, it is illegal for a driver to pass a stopped school bus when its red lights are flashing. Flashing lights mean that the bus is picking up or discharging students.

A driver must stop, whether he or she is approaching the bus from the front or the rear. Even on divided and multi-lane highways or on school grounds, a driver must stop for flashing red lights. The driver is obligated to remain stopped until the school bus starts to move again, or until signaled by the bus driver or by a police officer.

The Governor’s Office of the State of New York has supported a campaign to enforce the school bus laws. Operation Safe Stop promotes school bus safety through education and enforcement efforts. It also proactively educates motorists about the dangers of passing stopped school buses.


Fines & Suspensions for Passing Stopped Bus Tickets

In addition to fines, a conviction for Passing a Stopped School Bus will incur points. It may also result in suspension and possible imprisonment.

Points Fines Imprisonment
First Conviction 5 points $250.00 to $400.00, plus surcharge Up to 30 days
Second conviction
(within 3 years)
5 points $600.00 to $750.00, plus surcharge Up to 180 days
Third or subsequent conviction
(within 3 years)
5 points $750.00 to $1,000.00, plus surcharge Up to 180 days

Note that your driving privilege may be suspended if you accumulate 11 or more points in any 18 month period. And these penalties may be changing in the future. As recently as May of this year, legislators passed new laws increasing the penalties for passing a stopped school bus.

Because the penalties are so serious for this ticket, you should not just plead guilty. If you have received a ticket for Passing a Stopped School Bus, you should contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options.


Additional Tips to Avoid Tickets

In addition to stopping for school buses, many school zones have lower speed limits. These speed limits are usually only during school hours. Penalties may be severe, as the fines are bigger for school zone speeding violations. Speeding tickets can incur 3 points, going all the way up to 11 points and suspension of your driving privilege.

It is always good to remember the following when traveling in school zones, or by school buses or bus stops:

Slow down – children may be in the area of buses or bus stops.

Buses make frequent stops.

A bus with flashing yellow lights is about to come to a stop.

Watch for children who cross in front of the bus.

School buses are required to stop at railroad crossings.

The speed limit in a school zone will likely be lower.



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