COLUMBIA, S.C. — The registered owner of a vehicle could be cited for a stop-arm violation even if he or she wasn’t at the wheel, this under a newly proposed bill in South Carolina.
S946 would apply to situations in which a vehicle illegally passes a school bus and is recorded by a stop-arm camera on the bus, but the driver can’t be identified by police based on the footage. In those cases, the legislation would allow a $500 civil penalty citation to be issued to the registered vehicle owner.
However, the registered owner wouldn’t be held responsible for the violation if he or she could prove that someone else was driving at the time of the incident. To that end, the vehicle owner would have to provide an affidavit with the name and address of the person who was operating the vehicle, or an affidavit stating that the vehicle was stolen at the time of the violation.
South Carolina passed legislation to allow stop-arm cameras on school buses in 2014.
Pupil transportation officials estimate that there are about 45,000 stop-arm violations across the state per school year, or 250 per school day.
“The most effective means to curb this astronomical number of violations is civil fines through the mail to the registered owner of the vehicle,” said Jada Garris of the SAVE (Stop-Arm Violation Education Enforcement) campaign. “It's been proven in other states that the majority of violators who get a civil fine in the mail for violating a school bus stop sign do not repeat [the offense].”
S946 was introduced in the South Carolina Senate on Wednesday. It was referred to the committee on transportation.