Lawmakers in Ohio and West Virginia are introducing legislation that would double fines for motorists who violate a stop arm.
In Ohio, House Bill 89 would amend current legislation to increase the fee for passing a stopped school bus with its stop arm extended from $500 to $1,000. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Niraj Antani, would also change the period of time a motorist has their driver’s license suspended from one year to two years.
In addition, House Bill 89 establishes requirements about informing the public about the law. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles deputy registrar locations would have to display a graphic that instructs drivers to stop and yield to a stopped school bus when it is either loading or unloading students.
House Bill 89 also appropriates $1 million in grants to school districts to purchase stop-arm cameras in fiscal year 2020.
The legislation was prompted by parents who complained to Antani about reckless motorists at school bus stops, WDTN reports. Antani told the news source that motorists passing stopped school buses is a widespread problem that is not only occurring locally but statewide as well.
The bill is set to go to committee before returning to the House floor for a vote, according to WDTN.
Meanwhile, in West Virginia, Senate Bill 238 would also increase penalties for a stopped school bus, as well as require exterior cameras on all school buses purchased after July 1, 2019.
The bill doubles the fine for stop-arm violators from $250 to a minimum of $500 and maximum of $1,000 for a first offense, with a 60-day license suspension and the possibility of six months of jail time. A second offense would cost an offending motorist at least $1,000 and no more than $1,500, also with a potential of six months in jail. The motorist’s license would be suspended for 180 days in that case. Passing a stopped school bus a third time would earn the violator a fine of $2,000, loss of their license for one year, and at least 48 hours in jail but no more than six months of jail time.
Moreover, if the violation caused a death, the charge becomes a felony and if convicted, the motorist could spend between one and 10 years in prison, and would be fined a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $10,000.
The bill passed the Senate last week and passed the House Judiciary Committee on Monday. It will receive a first reading in the House on Tuesday.