Passing School Bus

Va. Code §46.2-859: Reckless by Passing a School Bus

Passing a school bus that is equipped with warning signs and flashing lights while it is stopped to load or unload passengers is considered reckless driving. The driver must remain stopped until the passengers are all clear of the road or until the bus starts moving. This rule does not apply if there is a physical barrier separating the driver’s lane of traffic from the school bus.

Va. Code 46.2-859 Reckless Driving – Passing a School Bus

A person driving a motor vehicle shall stop such vehicle when approaching, from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons, and shall remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road or school driveway and the bus is put in motion; any person violating the foregoing is guilty of reckless driving. The driver of a vehicle, however, need not stop when approaching a school bus if the school bus is stopped on the other roadway of a divided highway, on an access road, or on a driveway when the other roadway, access road, or driveway is separated from the roadway on which he is driving by a physical barrier or an unpaved area. The driver of a vehicle also need not stop when approaching a school bus which is loading or discharging passengers from or onto property immediately adjacent to a school if the driver is directed by a law-enforcement officer or other duly authorized uniformed school crossing guard to pass the school bus. This section shall apply to school buses which are equipped with warning devices prescribed in § 46.2-1090 and are painted yellow with the words “School Bus” in black letters at least eight inches high on the front and rear thereof. Only school buses which are painted yellow and equipped with the required lettering and warning devices shall be identified as school buses.”

Penalties for Reckless Driving – Passing a School Bus
  • Class 1 misdemeanor (Criminal Conviction)
  • 0 to 12 months in jail
  • $0-$2,500 in fines
  • 0-6 months loss of license
  • 6 Va DMV demerit points
Defenses for Reckless Driving for Passing a School Bus

There are two main ways we prevent conviction for reckless driving when Passing a School Bus in Fairfax:

1) We attack the culpability. We try to show reasons why the driver does not deserve these harsh punishments and ask the court to reduce the charge to a less sever traffic ticket.

2) We attack the evidence and see whether the prosecution can prove the following facts:

  • Were their passengers loading or unloading?
  • Were the passengers children, elderly or handicapped?
  • Was the median painted? (or was it a physical object (curb, guardrails, grass ect?)
  • Was the buss properly equipped (lights, signs, paint)?
  • What could the officer actually see?

For more information about reckless driving defenses, click here.

How to Prepare for a Reckless Driving – Passing a School Bus Trial

Some of the things we recommend drivers do, can include (click the links for more information):

  • Taking a Driver Improvement Course
  • Writing a brief biography about yourself
  • Draw a diagram that includes the bus, the road, your vehicle and the police car
  • Writing a detailed incident summary about yourself
  • Getting a copy of your DMV record
Likely Lesser Offenses For Passing a School Bus – Reckless Driving

In Fairfax, prosecutors will not negotiated with unrepresented defendants; however, your attorney might be able to get the reckless driving charge reduced from a criminal reckless driving charge to one of the following non criminal traffic tickets:

  • Va. Code § 46.2-844: Failure to Stop for School Bus (Non Reckless)
  • Improper Driving
  • Failure to pay full time and attention

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