H4696 would considerably raise penalties for illegally passing school buses in South Carolina and allow the state to overrule decisions made on the locations of some school bus stops. File photo courtesy Sheridan County (Wyo.) School District

H4696 would considerably raise penalties for illegally passing school buses in South Carolina and allow the state to overrule decisions made on the locations of some school bus stops. File photo courtesy Sheridan County (Wyo.) School District

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A lawmaker here has prefiled a bill that would considerably raise penalties for illegally passing school buses and would allow the state to overrule decisions made on the locations of some school bus stops.

H4696 is sponsored by South Carolina Rep. Lin Bennett, Rep. Converse A. Chellis, Rep. Bill Taylor, Rep. R. Raye Felder, and Rep. Sylleste H. Davis. It proposes raising the penalty for running a stop arm the first time to $1,000 (up from $500) and adding a 30-day license suspension or 10 days of community service, and increases the penalty for the second offense to between $5,000 and $10,000 (up from $2,000) and includes six months to a year in jail.

The bill also calls for giving the state superintendent of education the discretion to overrule a school district's decision regarding placement of a school bus stop if the superintendent determines it to be "dangerous."

Bennett, who prefiled the bill on Nov. 20, told WCSC that the goal of the bill is “to get people to realize how dangerous this is … If you can’t do something as simple as stopping for a stopped school bus, you need to pay for that and you don’t need to be driving.”

The bill was also referred to the Committee on Education and Public Works on Nov. 20.

Meanwhile, school bus drivers in Bluffton County, S.C., recently reached out to law enforcement with concerns about more motorists passing stopped school buses, WSAV reports. In particular, drivers are concerned about increased traffic and motorists who apparently don’t care about the consequences of illegally passing a school bus.

Additionally, Maurice Brown, a school bus driver trainer for Beaufort County School District, encouraged motorists to stop for school buses with their red lights flashing in an interview with WSAV.

“Whenever you see us, no matter where we are and we are picking up a child and those red lights are going, please stop,” Brown told the news source. “The life of a child could depend on you stopping.”

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