Traffic violations can take many different forms in Texas, from speeding or running a red light to violating other traffic rules. Traffic violations in the state can range widely in terms of severity, but it is important to know that even seemingly minor violations often result in criminal consequences. To be sure, traffic violations that are only citable offenses in other states are often charged as misdemeanors in Texas. One type of traffic violation that you should take very seriously is a violation related to a school bus. The most common type of traffic violation involving a school bus is the offense of “passing a school bus.” A conviction will result in a misdemeanor criminal record and a hefty monetary fine. Our Texas traffic violation defense lawyers can tell you more.
What is the Offense of Illegally Passing a School Bus?
Under Section 545.066 of the Texas Transportation Code, passing a school bus is an offense that can result in misdemeanor or felony charges, depending upon the circumstances. The law expressly states that an “operator on a highway, when approaching from either direction a school bus stopped on the highway to receive or discharge a student,” must abide by the following traffic laws:
- Driver must stop before reaching the school bus when the school bus is using a visual signal indicating that it is stopping to pick up or drop off students; and
- Driver cannot proceed, and cannot pass the school bus, until the bus resumes motion, the school bus driver signals for the driver to proceed and pass, or the bus stops using its visual signal.
Motorists should know that they do not have to stop for a school bus if the bus is on a different roadway than the motorist’s, or if the school bus is on a controlled-access highway and the bus is both in a loading zone and in a road area where pedestrians are not allowed to cross.
Consequences of Illegally Passing a School Bus
If you violate the law and illegally pass a school bus when it has stopped to pick up or drop off children, you can face serious consequences. The following are some key things to know about the consequences for this offense:
- You will face at least misdemeanor charges for a first offense that will result in a fine of at least $500 and up to $1,250;
- If you are convicted of a subsequent offense within five years of a first offense, you will face a fine of at least $1,000 for the misdemeanor and up to $2,000;
- If you cause serious bodily injury to another in committing the offense, the charges will be a Class A misdemeanor;
- Causing serious bodily injury in a second or subsequent passing a school bus offense will result in a state jail felony; and
- Your driver’s license can be suspended for six months if you are convicted of a second or subsequent offense.
Contact Our Traffic Defense Lawyers in Texas
If you are facing a traffic violation charge, one of our Texas traffic defense attorneys can help. Contact The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates for more information.