Legislation in Utah and Florida proposing to crack down on motorists who violate a stop arm by raising fines and, in Utah’s case, adding compensatory service, moves closer to potentially becoming law. File photo courtesy Lois Cordes

Legislation in Utah and Florida proposing to crack down on motorists who violate a stop arm by raising fines and, in Utah’s case, adding compensatory service, moves closer to potentially becoming law. File photo courtesy Lois Cordes

Bills that propose toughening penalties for violating a stop arm in two states are advancing through the legislature.

As School Bus Fleet previously reported, House Bill 84 in Utah would raise the minimum penalties for failing to stop for a stopped school bus with its stop arm extended. The penalty for a first offense would increase from $100 to $250 and would add 10 hours of compensatory service. For a second offense, the penalty would rise from $250 to $500 with 20 hours of compensatory service added. For a third or subsequent offense that occurs within three years of a conviction or bail forfeiture, the penalty would go up from $500 to $1,000 and 40 hours of compensatory service would be added.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Craig Hall, passed the House and Senate as of Monday and awaits the governor’s signature, according to the Utah State Legislature’s website.

Meanwhile, as SBF previously reported, in Florida, SB 290 and HB 37 propose to double penalties on stop-arm runners. The bill's minimum fine would be bumped up from $100 to $200 for passing on the left side and from $200 to $400 for passing on the right side, where students load and unload. Additionally, a violator’s driver’s license would be suspended for a minimum of six months and a maximum of two years after a second offense within five years. If the bills are signed into law, the fines and license suspensions would go into effect on July 1, 2020.

HB 37 was unanimously approved in the House on Thursday, according to the Florida House of Representatives website, and SB 290 was approved by three committees earlier this month and was placed on the calendar for a second reading in the Senate on Feb. 13, according to the Florida Senate website.

WUSF News reports that Rep. Ardian Zika, HB 37’s sponsor, said that with the bill’s approval, the state’s House of Representatives is “sending a loud and clear message" that it "stands by the safety of our children and our communities.”

However, one representative, Rep. Joe Geller, voiced reluctant support for the bill due to concerns over the fines being too high. According to the news source, Geller said that the fines are “too much money to be charging for what is likely to be an inadvertent mistake.” In response to that worry, Rep. Emily Slosberg, HB 37’s co-sponsor, said, WUSF News reports, “Why should we care more about violator’s pocket than the value of our children’s lives?”

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