TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A bill has been introduced in the state Legislature that would enable school boards to authorize that cameras be installed on school buses to capture motorists who illegally pass the buses, and then use that as evidence for law enforcement to issue citations.
Under Senate Bill 950, a school board may contract with a vendor of automated devices for the installation, operation, notice processing, and administration and maintenance of the camera systems. If a school board enters into an inter-local agreement with the sheriff’s office, then the sheriff’s office would be able to enter into the contract with a vendor.
The images or video recorded by a camera system could not contain the face of the operator of the vehicle that passes a bus or the faces of any passengers in the vehicle.
A deputy sheriff, officer or employee of the sheriff’s office would review the images or video recorded by the system, and if he or she determines that an illegal bus passing offense has been committed, the sheriff’s office would issue a notice of violation within 30 days to the registered owner or lessee of the vehicle depicted in the footage. If the vehicle has more than one owner or lessee, the notice would be issued to the first person listed on the title or other evidence of ownership.
Motorists who illegally pass a school bus would receive a $250 fine, which would be distributed as follows once the motorists pay it:
• 25% would be remitted to the county in which the offense was committed.
• 35% would be remitted to the school district in which the offense was committed.
• 30% would be remitted to the Department of Revenue for deposit into the state’s general fund.
• 10% would be remitted to the Department of Education for school bus safety initiatives.
"Nowhere you're going to is so important that it should put a child's life at risk," Florida Sen. Oscar Braynon has said, according to First Coast News. Braynon is sponsoring the bill.
Motorists who fail to pay the fine would be denied a new or replacement vehicle license plate or revalidation sticker as part of registering their vehicle until the owner or lessee’s name no longer appears on a list of those who have outstanding fines, or until the owner or lessee presents a receipt showing that the outstanding fines have been paid.
The legislation does outline some instances under which a motorist would be exempt from a fine, such as he or she passed the bus’ stop arm to yield the only right-of-way available to an emergency vehicle and “did so prudently.”
Also, the motorist would be exempt from the fine if he or she passed the bus’ stop arm at the direction of a law enforcement officer.
If approved, the act would take effect July 1. As of Feb. 21, the bill had been referred to a Senate appropriations committee.
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