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Laws regarding passing school buses and reckless driving

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2024 | Reckless Driving |

Most drivers are aware of the need to stop for school buses, but the laws can vary based on the location of the bus and the surrounding roadways. Knowing these laws can prevent many accidents, but sometimes a driver may be dealing with a distraction, leading them to pass a bus when it’s not allowed. Virginia, like other states, takes the unlawful passing of a school bus very seriously, which means a driver can face reckless driving charges when this happens. If you’re facing such charges, it’s important to understand your rights and to prepare yourself for the possible penalties that can come with a conviction.

Laws surrounding school buses

Drivers must stop for marked school buses when approaching a stopped bus from either direction. Drivers need to pay attention to school bus lights and stop signs to maintain awareness of when the bus will stop. If you fail to stop when a bus is loading or unloading children, elderly individuals or those with disabilities, you can face prosecution like what you would face for traffic infractions.

Laws for passing stopped school buses apply to private roads, school roads and highways. When stopping for a bus, you must remain stopped until those loading or unloading from the bus are clear of the road and the bus begins to move again. If you violate these laws, you can face charges for reckless driving.

Other things to know about passing buses

If you approach a stopped school bus on the other side of a divided highway, you don’t have to stop. Stopped buses on private driveways, access roads or other roadways with some type of barrier or unpaved area don’t require you to stop. When passing school buses with law enforcement or authorized crossing guards present, be sure to obey their directions, which may include directing you to pass the bus even when it would otherwise be unlawful.

When someone faces accusations of passing a stopped school bus unlawfully, the bus driver may have to testify in court. Many school buses have surveillance systems that record when children are present. Law enforcement officers may request surveillance footage to decide whether someone should receive charges for reckless driving when they’re accused of passing a stopped school bus.

What to do when facing reckless driving charges

Being charged with reckless driving can be stressful. You may worry about losing your driving privileges or paying hefty fines associated with a conviction. When facing these charges in Virginia, it’s imperative that you know your legal rights and are aware of how best to defend yourself in court.