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We have discussed vehicles illegally passing stopped school buses in past blogs. This week, lawmakers in Ohio and West Virginia are introducing legislation that would double fines for motorists who violate a stop arm.
In Ohio, the bill would amend current legislation to increase the fee for passing a stopped school bus with its stop arm extended from $500 to $1,000. It would also change the period of time a motorist has their driver’s license suspended from one year to two years. The bill would appropriate $1 million in grants to school districts to purchase stop-arm cameras in fiscal year 2020.
The bill is set to go to committee before returning to the House floor for a vote.
Meanwhile, in West Virginia, their bill would also increase penalties for a stopped school bus, as well as require exterior cameras on all school buses purchased after July 1, 2019.
The bill doubles the fine for stop-arm violators from $250 to a minimum of $500 and maximum of $1,000 for a first offense, with a 60-day license suspension and the possibility of six months of jail time. A second offense would cost an offending motorist at least $1,000 and no more than $1,500, also with a potential of six months in jail. The motorist’s license would be suspended for 180 days in that case. Passing a stopped school bus a third time would earn the violator a fine of $2,000, loss of their license for one year, and at least 48 hours in jail but no more than six months of jail time.
Moreover, if the violation caused a death, the charge becomes a felony and if convicted, the motorist could spend between one and 10 years in prison, and would be fined a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $10,000.
The bill passed the Senate last week and passed the House Judiciary Committee on Monday. It will receive a first reading in the House on Tuesday.
Hopefully other states will take note of these proposed bills. This will help remind the public that this is a serious matter not to be taken lightly.