In Charlotte, it is rare not to see a school bus during your morning or afternoon commute and at some point, we have all been stopped behind one. As frustrating as it may be to have our commute delayed while we wait behind a school bus, be warned that the penalty for passing a stopped school bus is extremely harsh.
North Carolina Law, specifically General Statute § 20-217, requires that you stop for a stopped school bus that is displaying its stop signal or its flashing red lights and is stopped for picking up or dropping off passengers. Law enforcement officers in Mecklenburg County place an emphasis on enforcing this and frequently write citations for unlawfully passing a stopped school bus. Additionally, prosecutors in most jurisdictions across North Carolina are reluctant to negotiate these charges down because they are fearful of potential negative publicity.
Accordingly, if you find yourself charged with unlawfully passing a stopped school bus it is imperative that you understand the severe penalties you face and the options that you may have available to you if you hire an attorney. In our experience, most people charged with this offense have clean driving records, never intended to pass a stopped school bus and simply do not deserve the Draconian punishment that accompanies this charge.
In North Carolina Passing a Stopped School Bus is a Crime
Most traffic violations are infractions, however, passing a stopped School Bus is a class 1 misdemeanor. The maximum punishment for a Class 1 misdemeanor is 120 days in jail. Typically, if found guilty of unlawfully passing a stopped school bus, one would not be sentenced to active jail time but rather probation and/or community service and some type of driving school.
North Carolina will not allow a PJC
A prayer for judgment continued, PJC, in not available for passing a stopped school bus.
License and Insurance Points for a North Carolina Driver
Passing a stopped school bus would put 5 points on your driver’s license and 4 points on your insurance policy. 4 points on your insurance would cause your premiums to increase by 80% for three years from the date of conviction.
If found guilty of passing a stopped school bus, you would owe the state of North Carolina $790.00. A mandatory $500 fine and court costs of $190. Moreover, if you do not pay the fine and court costs you will not be able to register or renew the registration for any vehicle you own in North Carolina
A Second Conviction
A second conviction for passing a stopped school bus within three years results in a one-year revocation of your North Carolina driver’s license.
How Browning & Long Can Help
We can negotiate with the District Attorney to reduce this charge or, if need be, take your case to trial. As former District Attorney’s, we have prosecuted these cases for years and, as defense attorney’s, have represented numerous folks charged with passing a stopped school bus. We know all the defenses available to you and want to help you avoid the significant penalties.
You should not make the mistake of taking this charge lightly. As mentioned above, passing a stopped school bus is a Class 1 misdemeanor that, if convicted, could permanently appear on your criminal record and drastically impact your finances for years to come. Let our experienced criminal defense lawyers help build a strong defense to your case. Raising defenses can result in your charge being dismissed or reduced - even if you are guilty. To learn more, call our office today to schedule your free consultation.