INDIANAPOLIS — A bill that would create harsher penalties for motorists who illegally pass school buses received approval from a state Senate committee last week.
Under the proposed law, introduced by Rep. Suzanne Crouch in January 2008, drivers could be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor if they cause bodily injury to a person while passing a school bus that is stopped with red lights flashing and stop arm extended.
The legislation would also require the court to recommend that the motorist’s license be suspended, and it would increase the fine from $1,000 to $5,000.
“Purposely ignoring the law of Indiana and harming another human by that action deserves harsher consequences than what the law currently allows," Rep. Crouch said. "The current law doesn't differentiate between someone who passes a school bus illegally and hits a mailbox versus someone who passes a school bus illegally and hits a child. There is something fundamentally wrong with that."
The bill, which passed unanimously in the House, is now up for a second reading in the Senate. If it passes a second and third reading unchanged, it will be sent to Gov. Mitch Daniels to be signed into law.