RALEIGH, N.C. — Legislation has been introduced in the state’s General Assembly that would increase the fines and penalties for illegally passing a school bus.
The bill, called the North Carolina School Bus Safety Act, stipulates that a motorist who passes a school bus that is stopped for students to board or disembark would be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, and he or she would have to pay a minimum fine of $500.
If an individual passes a stopped school bus and strikes a person, the motorist would be guilty of a Class I felony and would receive a minimum fine of $2,500. If the person dies as a result of being struck, the motorist would be guilty of a Class H felony and would have to pay a minimum fine of $5,000.
The North Carolina School Bus Safety Act also includes provisions regarding license revocation.
The Division of Motor Vehicles would revoke for a period of one year the driver’s license of any motorist who is convicted of a second misdemeanor within a three-year period. An individual’s license would be revoked for two years if he or she is convicted of a Class I felony. And the license revocation period would be three years if the motorist is convicted of a Class H felony.
A person’s license would be permanently revoked if he or she is convicted of a second felony violation or a third misdemeanor within any period of time.
Rep. Donny Lambeth, one of the legislators who introduced the act, said in a recent edition of his newsletter that the intent of the bill is “to create awareness for motorists to be very careful as they approach a stopped school bus; and, if they violate a stop arm, the penalties will be significant.”
If approved, the act would take effect Dec. 1 and apply to offenses committed on or after that date.
The North Carolina School Bus Safety Act is one of a couple of bills up for review in the General Assembly related to increasing the penalties for bus-passing violations. As SBF previously reported, Senate Bill 16 would amend the law by allowing the Division of Motor Vehicles to revoke the driver’s licenses of illegal bus passers.
Upon the first conviction of a misdemeanor offense, the revocation period would be 30 days. Upon a second or subsequent misdemeanor conviction, the person’s license would be revoked for 90 days.
As of late February, the bill had been referred to the committee on transportation.