School buses carry our most precious cargo: children. To reduce the risk of accidents, New Jersey enforces strict rules about how and when drivers may pass school buses. Drivers who violate these laws can be fined, lose their licenses, or even face jail time. An improper school bus passing conviction can also have negative financial consequences, adding points to your license and causing your insurance premiums to skyrocket.
If you or a family member was charged with improperly passing a school bus in Atlantic City or other parts of New Jersey, you need a skilled and experienced traffic lawyer on your side. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, we are traffic offense attorneys with more than 45 years of experience. We can work to lower your fines and fight against points while seeking ways to reduce or avoid jail time. Contact us online today to set up a free legal consultation, or call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to speak with one of our Atlantic City improper school bus passing attorneys.
What is the Law on Passing a School Bus in NJ?
The New Jersey law on passing a school bus is located at N.J.S.A. § 39:4-128.1. This statute requires the drivers of passenger vehicles to obey certain traffic rules when “approaching or overtaking” any bus being used to bring children to or from school, a school-related activity (such as a field trip), or a summer camp or other type of day camp. Specifically, the law requires drivers to:
- Stop their cars at least 25 feet away from the bus
- Remain parked in place until both of the following have occurred:
- All children have completed boarding or getting off the bus
- The bus driver has switched off the vehicle’s flashing red light, indicating that the children are safe
Additionally, if children are getting off the bus, the driver must wait to proceed until the debarking children have safely reached the side of the road.
Note that the above rules apply to highways which lack islands or physical traffic dividers. Slightly different regulations apply to other types of roads. For example, if the highway has two or more lanes that are “separated by safety islands” or other physical dividers, then approaching drivers must reduce their speed to 10 miles per hour, or even slower. The driver may not increase speed “until the vehicle has passed the bus and has passed any child who may have” boarded or deboarded. In cases where a school bus is parked curbside while letting children on or off, drivers may “pass… without stopping,” but may not drive any faster than 10 miles per hour while passing.
Can I Go to Jail for Passing a School Bus?
The short answer to this question is yes. There is a possibility of jail time if you are found guilty of improperly passing a school bus, making it essential to obtain skilled legal representation. In accordance with the penalties established by N.J.S.A. § 39:4-128.1, offenders may be sentenced to up to 15 days in jail. As an alternative to jail time, it may be possible to perform 15 days of community service, depending on the nature of the case. Your Atlantic City traffic attorney can advocate for you to receive mitigated penalties, potentially enabling you to avoid incarceration.
Other Penalties for Passing School Buses
Jail time is not the only consequence that can result from improper passing of a school bus in New Jersey. In addition to being incarcerated for more than two weeks, offenders also face fines ranging from $100 to $250. More seriously, the defendant’s license may be revoked by the New Jersey DMV, at the discretion of the current DMV Director.
There can also be negative consequences when it comes to your driving record and auto insurance. If you pass a school bus improperly in New Jersey, a total of five points will be added to your driving record. If you reach or exceed 12 points on your license, not only can your license be suspended; furthermore, you can be fined with costly surcharges. Just six points, spread over a three-year period, are sufficient to trigger surcharges, which start at $150 and increase for each point above the six-point threshold.
Not only are these surcharges costly in their own right – moreover, the underlying points on your record can cause your insurance company to increase your premiums. Since insurers view points as indicators of risk, more points translate to higher bills for continued coverage.
Atlantic City Traffic Attorneys for Improper Passing of School Bus Charges
Improperly passing a school bus is a serious traffic violation that can have long-reaching consequences, including costly fines, incarceration, and issues with your auto insurance. If you received a ticket for passing a school bus in Atlantic City, it is in your best interests to contact a seasoned attorney for help. To discuss your traffic ticket in a free legal consultation with an improper bus passing lawyer, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956, or contact us online today.