Passing a School Bus


A driver on a highway approaching or overtaking a bus used solely for the transportation of children to and from school, any school activity, or summer day camp must stop not less than 25 feet from the bus when the bus has stopped to receive or discharge any passengers. The driver may not proceed until all children have entered the bus or have alighted and reached the side of the highway, or until the flashing red lights have stopped.

Do not pass or closing approach a school bus with flashing red lights.

State law requires that motorists stop at least 25 feet away if traveling on a two-lane road, or on a multi-lane highway where lanes are only separated by lines, or on a privately maintained road.

Slow down to 10 mph if traveling on a dual highway, if on the opposite side of a safety island or a raised median.

School buses are equipped with yellow, amber or red flashing lights. Yellow or amber lights before the bus stops, and red lights go on when it has stopped. Do not depend on these lights if traveling behind a school bus. These lights could be malfunctioning.

When the bus stops, motorists traveling behind or approaching the bus must stop at least 25 feet from the school bus. Watch for children, and then proceed slowly, at 10 mph.

If a school bus has stopped directly in front of a school to pick up or let off children, pass from either direction at no more than 10 mph.

The fines for the improper passing of a school bus are $102 to $252. A driver convicted of this offense can be sentenced to up to 15 days of jail, or 15 days of community service.

In most improper passing school bus cases, a driver will lose for 30 days. A driver is assessed five points for improperly passing a school bus.


In summary, school bus cases can be a disaster. It is always a strongly advisable idea to attempt to get a school bus charge dropped down to a careless driving charge. A passing a school bus conviction carries five points. Therefore, it is a major win to get the charge dropped to only a two pointer. Most municipal courts will not permit a school bus charge to be dropped to a no pointer.

The only way to beat a school bus case is to hope that the school bus driver does not show up for court. Moreover, the lawyer can subpoena the records from the school bus driver. The school bus driver has to continually check the safety devices for the school bus. Sometimes, the school bus driver keeps crummy records. Moreover, the statute reads that the driver must have at least notice from 40 feet away that a school bus is stopping. The driver can argue that the school bus driver put the flashing lights on too late, or activated the stop sign from the side of the bus too late, to enable the driver to make a full stop, in a safe manner.

The key issue in school bus cases is how reasonable the driver was in the current factual situation. Moreover, many Municipal Court judges can be “hardcore” in these cases. Always research the individual judge in these types of cases. Also beware for the “vigilante” bus drivers. Many towns have vigilante bus drivers who make it their part time job to file their own complaints against violators. They can be demons to deal with. In summary, a school bus violation carries five points, and a conviction for this offense can easily double your insurance rates.