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Feifer & Greenberg, LLP
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07 May2013

NY Passing Stopped School Bus Laws

New York strictly enforces school bus laws and it’s understandable when New Yorkers read tragic headlines like  “6-Year-Old Boy Dead in Brooklyn After School Bus Hit-and-Run” and “7-Year-Old Boy Killed by Van Driver After Getting Off School Bus in Far Rockaway” far too often. 

NY passing stopped school bus laws are in place to protect young children, but unfortunately, some drivers aren’t paying close enough attention to the school bus activity around them or forget or flat-out ignore these laws.  In either scenario drivers are putting children in harm’s way.

Drivers must be aware of school buses in NY even if the bus is on the other side of a divided highway. 

New York School Bus Safety

According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, when a school bus stops and flashes its red lights, traffic approaching from either direction must stop before reaching the bus:

  • On a two-lane road
  • On multi-lane highways
  • On divided highways.

Vehicles should stop at least 20 feet from the bus; while leaving less room could in theory result in a ticket the most important aspect is coming to a complete stop while the bus is dropping off or picking up passengers.  At a stop, your vehicle is no longer a threat to any of the children in the area.. It’s extremely important to understand and pay very close attention to any school buses in the area.

When Must I Stop My Car for a School Bus?

The important points of the law to remember are:

  • Identifying a school bus on the road ahead of you either traveling the same or the opposite direction;
  • The bus is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers OR which is stopped because a school bus in front of it has stopped to receive or discharge passengers;
  • The red flashing lights on the school bus are illuminated;
  • Cannot move again until the school bus resumes motion or until the driver or a police officer gives a signal to proceed.

Once permitted to move, we’d still recommend moving with caution.  Kids don’t always make the right decision when crossing the streets and there may be siblings or parents who are standing near the bus as well.  

If you misread the driver’s waving or other signal and choose to pass, you could be given a ticket.

Here are some other important provisions regarding New York State laws for passing a school bus:

  • This ticket can be written anytime, anywhere. School grounds or off school grounds (various field trips), private or public roadway, before, during, or after school hours.  It is always in effect.
  • Approaches from front and rear, left, and right are all covered. There’s also no provision that you be adjacent to the school bus. A technical reading of the law would require a vehicle in the most western southbound lane of Broadway in NYC to stop for a school bus 6 lanes and one median away in the most eastern northbound lane.
  • You may not pass just because the lights are off or passengers seem to be finished getting on or off.  You must wait until waived on by the driver or the bus starts in motion again.

Click here to learn more about the specific provisions of the New York state laws for passing a school bus.

Penalties for Passing a School Bus in New York

Fines can range depending on the court and the individual situation and driving history but suffice to say this is NOT a violation taken lightly by most judges.  There are also five points attached to this violation on top of the fines and surcharges.  

What to Do if You Were Given a Ticket for Passing a School Bus

If you’ve been issued a ticket for failure to stop for a school bus answerable to a local court, you’ll most likely pursue a plea bargain and a negotiated reduction of the charge before you schedule a trial on the merits.  In NYC at the Traffic Violations Bureau you’ll need to proceed to a small hearing as there is no plea bargaining option in those courts.  

Call a New York Traffic Ticket Attorney Today

The potential penalties involved and the various situations that could lead to the issuance of a school bus ticket make this violation one where a brief consult with an attorney can be particularly helpful as you decide how to handle the summons.  Children’s safety is always a priority, but unfortunately the nature of this violation can sometimes lead to overly aggressive enforcement.

We’ve worked with many people who have argued that they were issued a ticket for this violation despite passengers not getting on or off the bus or just before the red lights were ever illuminated or were otherwise adamant that they did not commit a violation.

If you were given a ticket for passing a school bus, feel fee to call the New York traffic ticket lawyers at Feifer & Greenberg for some guidance on the situation and potentially help having your ticket reduced or dismissed.