Unlawful Passing of a School Bus
Receiving a traffic ticket for unlawfully passing a school bus in Georgia is a major traffic offense. The consequences of this violation can be severe, and it is important to take immediate action. If you have been issued such a ticket, it is strongly recommended to hire an attorney right away. An experienced attorney can provide guidance on the best course of action to take in your situation and help you navigate the legal system in order to potentially reduce or mitigate the penalties. Don't let this traffic offense negatively impact your driving record and cause unnecessary stress in your life. With the right help, you can face this situation with confidence and come out on the other side with the best possible outcome.
Georgia Laws on Passing a School Bus: Safety First
The state of Georgia takes school bus safety very seriously. The laws surrounding when you can and cannot pass a school bus are designed to protect the lives of children who rely on these buses to get to and from school each day. In this section, we will discuss the specifics of Georgia's school bus passing laws, why they exist, and the role of school bus cameras in enforcing them.
When Can You Pass a School Bus in Georgia?
According to Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-163), drivers must stop for a school bus that has its red lights flashing and stop sign arm extended, regardless of the direction they are traveling. This applies to all roads, except when there is a physical barrier or an unpaved median separating the lanes of traffic.
Here are the specific guidelines:
- On a two-lane road, traffic in both directions must stop.
- On a multi-lane road without a median or barrier, traffic in both directions must stop.
- On a divided highway with a median or barrier, only traffic moving in the same direction as the bus must stop.
Drivers should remain stopped until the bus retracts its stop sign arm and turns off the flashing red lights. It is crucial to exercise caution and be prepared to stop whenever you see a school bus, as children may not always be visible or predictable when crossing the street.
Why Does Georgia Have These Laws?
The primary purpose of Georgia's school bus passing laws is to protect the safety of children. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest mode of transportation for students. However, the most significant risk to children occurs when they are boarding or exiting the bus.
By requiring drivers to stop for school buses with flashing red lights and extended stop signs, Georgia aims to reduce the number of accidents involving children and school buses. These laws also serve to remind drivers of their responsibility to share the road with school buses and ensure the safety of young passengers.
School Bus Cameras and Civil Penalties
To help enforce school bus passing laws, Georgia has authorized the use of cameras on school buses (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-163.1). These cameras are designed to capture images of vehicles that unlawfully pass a stopped school bus. School districts may work with law enforcement agencies and camera vendors to implement these systems.
If a camera catches a driver unlawfully passing a school bus, they will receive a civil penalty citation in the mail. The penalties for violating Georgia's school bus passing laws by being caught on camera are to pay a civil penalty of $250.00. If you fail to pay this fee, then you will not be allowed to renew your vehicle's registration, you will not be allowed to transfer title of that vehicle, and you must pay any additional civil monetary penalties the state may assess.
These civil penalties are separate from any criminal charges a driver may face if their actions result in injury or death. If a police officer saw you unlawfully pass a school bus and pulled you over for it, then any criminal citation you receive will negate any future school bus camera action that the state may try and bring against you for the same bus-passing occurrence.
Georgia's school bus passing laws exist to protect the safety of children traveling to and from school. As a driver, it is your responsibility to be aware of these laws and follow them at all times. By doing so, you are not only obeying the law but also contributing to the well-being of the children in your community.
Consequences of Unlawful Passing of a School Bus in Georgia: Understanding the Impact
In Georgia, the safety of children traveling to and from school is of utmost importance. As such, drivers must be aware of the consequences for a conviction of unlawful passing of a school bus traffic citation. Here, we will explore the penalties associated with this offense, with a particular focus on drivers under 21 years old, and the implications on their driving privileges.
Penalties for Unlawful Passing of a School Bus Traffic Citation
A conviction for unlawfully passing a school bus in Georgia carries severe consequences. Fines and penalties for this offense are as follows:
- A fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months (misdemeanor). Possibility of probation, depending on your driving history.
- 6 points added to your driving history - if you get 15 or more points in a 24 month period, your license will be suspended, for drivers 21 and up. See below for consequences of drivers under 21.
- Defensive driving course - the court could require you to take a defensive driving course.
- Community service - the court could have you do community service hours
Consequences for Drivers Under 21
For drivers under 21 years old, a conviction for unlawfully passing a school bus is particularly serious. Since this offense carries six points, it will result in an automatic suspension of their license for at least six months, as Georgia law mandates a suspension for any driver under 21 who receives a conviction for four or more points in a single offense.
It is important to note that drivers under 21 cannot plead "no contest" to avoid the points associated with this violation. A "no contest" plea is not accepted for any offense that would result in the suspension of a license for drivers under 21.
Furthermore, drivers under 21 who have their license suspended due to a conviction for unlawfully passing a school bus are not eligible for a limited driving permit. This means that they will not be able to drive at all during the suspension period, which can have a significant impact on their ability to attend school, work, or participate in other essential activities.
Legal Defenses Against an Unlawful Passing of School Bus Charge: Exploring Your Options
Facing a charge of unlawfully passing a school bus can be a stressful and challenging experience. It is essential to understand that you have the right to defend yourself against such charges. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal process and present various defenses to fight the allegations. In this section, we will discuss some possible legal defenses an attorney can argue in your case.
1. Insufficient Evidence
One of the most common defenses against traffic violations is arguing that there is insufficient evidence to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In the case of unlawfully passing a school bus, the prosecution must demonstrate that the driver violated the specific requirements of the law, such as failing to stop when the bus had its red lights flashing and stop sign arm extended. If the evidence is weak or inconclusive, your attorney may argue that the charge should be dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
2. Obstructed View
Another possible defense is that the driver's view of the school bus was obstructed, making it impossible for them to see the flashing red lights or extended stop sign arm. This could occur if another vehicle or object blocked your line of sight, causing you to be unaware of the stopped school bus. Your attorney may present evidence or witness testimony to support this claim.
3. Emergency Situation
In some cases, an attorney may argue that the driver passed the school bus due to an emergency situation that required immediate action. For example, if you needed to avoid an accident or protect another person's life, your attorney could argue that your actions were justified under the circumstances. This defense may require additional evidence or expert testimony to support your claim.
4. Mechanical Malfunction
If your vehicle experienced a mechanical malfunction that prevented you from stopping safely, your attorney could argue that this contributed to the alleged violation. For instance, if your brakes failed or there was another issue with your car that made it impossible for you to stop, this could be used as a defense. Your attorney may need to provide evidence of the malfunction, such as repair records, to support this claim.
5. Mistaken Identity
In cases where the charge is based on photographic or video evidence from a school bus camera, your attorney may argue that the driver in the image or footage is not you. This defense would require demonstrating that the vehicle captured in the evidence is not yours or that you were not driving at the time of the alleged violation.
How We Can Help
If you find yourself facing charges for unlawfully passing a school bus citation in Georgia, the experienced team at Your Law Firm is here to help. Our dedicated legal team will fight diligently for you in court, advocating for a reduction in charges or even taking your case to trial if necessary. We know that this situation can be overwhelming, which is why we'll be right by your side every step of the way, guiding you through the legal process and fighting for your rights.