NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A proposed bill that would have elevated the penalty for illegally passing a school bus from a misdemeanor to a felony and increased fines last week was withdrawn on Wednesday, with plans for revised, tiered penalties.
HB 0055, which was introduced on Jan. 17 by state Rep. Jason Potts, would have increased the penalty for a stop-arm violation from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony, punishable by a fine ranging from $500 to $3,000. Currently, the fine for passing a stopped school bus is between $250 and $1,000, Potts told School Bus Fleet.
Potts added that he withdrew the bill because he is planning to submit a new version that will include tiers for first, second, and third offenses. The first offense would incur a $500 fine and 8 hours of community service. For the second offense, violators would receive a $750 fine, 16 hours of community service, and a loss of their driver’s license for 30 days. A third offense would be met with a $1,000 fine and a loss of the offender’s driver’s license for 120 days, Potts explained.
“I am trying to make the state safer for our kids, and am looking for the best way to do that,” Potts said.
The final draft of the new bill is still a work in progress, Potts said. It may still include a Class E felony charge for violators when a pedestrian is struck and bodily harm is caused. Potts is also looking into charges related to the death of pedestrians when someone passes a school bus.