Passing a school bus discharging or taking on children is perilous for the children and could be costly for you. You should consult a traffic attorney before you proceed.
Why You Should Hire a Traffic Attorney to Challenge a Ticket for Passing the School Bus
There are several reasons for challenging a ticket for passing the school bus when stopped to load or unload school children. The most significant is expense.
A fine for passing the school bus is $695, but that is only the beginning. After paying the fine, the DMV will assess one negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) point. Then, at renewal, your auto insurance provider will take your 20 percent “good driver’s discount,” and add the associated risk. Typically, the added risk is 10 or 12%.
After taking your discount, they will add the inherent risk posed by a driver passing a school bus while discharging children. They’ll consider how much it could cost in a civil suit if the child is injured, plus pain and suffering.
A traffic attorney will know the legal wording required to obtain a possible dismissal or reduced no-point conviction that will not be reported to your insurance company. Plus, the attorney can attend traffic court to resolve your ticket, and you can go to work.
There Are Some Common Defenses That Attorneys Use for Passing the School Bus
The four most common defenses are:
- The school bus had not stopped.
- The red signal light did not flash, the stop sign had not come out, or neither was working.
- You were not driving your car when it passed a stopped school bus. The bus driver or the LEO made a mistake. It is not up to you to prove you were not driving—the burden of proof is the State’s responsibility.
- You were driving, but you couldn’t stop because of an emergency.
The best option is to allow a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to resolve your ticket in court, then the judge cannot ask you directly who was driving.
CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 22454, Special Stops Required staters in subparagraph (a) “The driver of any vehicle, upon meeting or overtaking, from either direction, any school bus equipped with signs as required in this code, that is stopped for the purpose of loading or unloading any schoolchildren and displays a flashing red light signal and stop signal arm…if equipped with a stop signal arm, visible from front or rear, shall bring the vehicle to a stop immediately before passing the school bus and shall not proceed past the school bus until the flashing red light signal and stop signal arm…”
Subparagraph (c) provides that the driver who observes a vehicle passing the school bus while stopped to discharge or take on passengers may report the incident within 24 hours to the local law enforcement. Law enforcement could issue an Attorney General’s (AG) warning letter or a citation. The warning letter will not be placed in the driver’s motor vehicle driving record (MVR) but will remain on file.
When the driver decides to pay the fine, they are, in fact, pleading guilty to passing the school bus while stopped, and the DMV will assess one NOTS point, which the auto insurance provider will use at policy renewal to raise your premium.
Considering the average Californian pays $2,190 for insurance (according to Bankrate), the lack of a good driver’s discount will add approximately $438, plus around 12% or $262.80 for additional risk after a conviction. The new premium of $2,890.80 will remain in effect until the NOTS point is removed from the MVR 36-39 months later.
That means a driver could pay $2,102.80 in increased premiums, plus the $695 fine, or $2,797.40 for the minor infraction of passing the school bus while stopped. Yet, many drivers believe an attorney costs too much.
Bigger & Harman, APC, Is the Driver’s Best Option When Faced with a Passing the School Bus Ticket
We have been asked by nearly 20,000 California drivers over ten years to represent them in court, resolve their traffic tickets, and protect their driving privileges. We practice only traffic law in Kern, Tulare, Kings, Fresno, Mono, Inyo, LA, and other counties across California.
CVC Section 22454, Special Stops Required.
The Bankrate article, Average cost of car insurance in California for 2022.