National Bus Safety Week is October 22-26, but we believe bus safety should be recognized every day.
Officers will be stopping cars and writing tickets to drivers who illegally pass a school bus while it is unloading/loading children. We will continue to do this for the remainder of the school year. Illegal passing of a school bus includes any time the red lights of the bus are flashing or the stop sign is visible, for all lanes of traffic in BOTH directions.*
The fine for passing a school bus for the City of Fort Oglethorpe is $375 and includes 6 points on the offender's license. License suspension for one year occurs with a total accumulation of 15 points in a 24-month period.**
We have included a video of a bus being passed while unloading children. This video contains very disturbing content; viewer discretion is advised.
*- unless 4 lanes or more with a median separation. Traffic behind bus must stop.
**- What are the Consequences of Unlawful Passing of a School Bus?
The consequences of unlawfully passing a school bus include any lawful punishments allowed in a misdemeanor traffic offense. This can include 12 months jail or probation, $1000 in fines, community service, defensive driving school, alcohol and drug counseling, and/or any other class a judge believes that will correct the driver's behavior.
In addition, the offense carries 6 points. Any person under the age of 21 convicted of a traffic offense having 4 or more points shall have their license suspended for 6 months. For drivers under the age of 18, accumulating 4 total points before age 18 will also result in a 6-month license suspension.
For drivers over 21, their license can be suspended for accumulating 15 points in a 24-month period. However, a judge can hand down a “court-ordered” suspension of the driver's license to anyone convicted of a misdemeanor traffic offense. Many Georgia traffic ticket lawyers do not realize that a judge can suspend the license of a person, even for offenses that do not carry an automatic license suspension or result in 15 accumulated points.
Passing a school bus also carries a minimum fine of $300 for a first offense, $750 for a second offenses, and $1000 for a third offense. All Georgia fines carry additional court costs and surcharges. A $300 fine will usually increase by 60% when the surcharges are added to the base fine.
These consequences are for simply passing a school bus unlawfully. Should a crash, injury, or death occur as a result, the consequences would be much heftier. (Courtesy Richard Lawson)