MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A bill is making its way through the state Legislature that would allow local boards of education to approve the use of stop-arm cameras to capture motorists who illegally pass school buses.
Under Senate Bill (SB) 144, also known as the Alabama School Bus Safety Act, a school board may approve the use of these cameras by voting at a meeting, and members may elect to operate a school bus enforcement program without the involvement of the governing body or sheriff by utilizing a trained technician.
Alternately, if such a program is approved by a school board and authorized by a resolution enacted by the governing body, the board would be permitted to enter into an agreement with a contractor (in this case, a company that provides services to a board or governing body, including, but not limited to, automated devices, citation processing and collection of the civil fines) for all aspects of managing the stop-arm cameras. Prior to entering into a contract, the board would be required to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
The fine for a stop-arm violation under the legislation would be a maximum of $300 for the first offense, $750 for a second offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense in a five-year period.
After deducting costs to run the program, 40% of the fine would go to the county or municipal governing body that contracted for the operation of a school bus violation program, 40% would go to the school system where the offense was committed and 10% each would go to the state Department of Education for school bus safety initiatives and to the Alabama Department of Public Safety for highway safety enforcement.
The bill would take effect on the first day of the third month following approval by the governor.
Last week, SB 144 was engrossed in the state Senate and referred to the House of Representatives committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.