As the world comes out of the lockdown of the pandemic, people are finding they must refamiliarize themselves with situations that used to be well practiced and now seem alien. Our office is seeing an increase in citations for improper passing of a school bus while loading or unloading children and this may be because people got used to school buses not really travelling on the road while schools were shut down. So, an important refresher on the subject follows.
Under Illinois law, a vehicle that is approaching a school bus, from either direction, shall stop their vehicle before meeting or overtaking the bus, so long as it’s stop sign is extended and it’s lights are flashing. The vehicle is not to proceed unless the school bus begins moving or the school bus driver turns off the visual signals and motions the vehicle to pass. This is true, even if the bus is on a rural road, or, in a school parking lot. In fact, there is only one time when a vehicle is not required to stop for the school bus, and that is both the vehicle and the school bus are on a four lane roadway and the bus is travelling in the opposite direction of the vehicle. Any other time a vehicle must stop for a school bus displaying the proper visual signals.
Improper passing of a school bus is a petty offense. This means that the maximum possible punishment is a fine of money. It is not punishable with jail time. However, there is a significant consequence that accompanies this statute. First, it should be understood that the law does not allow for court supervision on this offense. This means if a driver is found guilty, the only option available to the court is for a conviction to enter on the driver’s record. And a conviction for this particular offense results in a suspension of the driver’s license for a period of three months by the Secretary of State. A second conviction occurring within 5 years of a previous conviction will result in a 1 year suspension of driving privileges.
Those consequences make it advisable to consult with an experience traffic attorney. The attorney can advise you on what your options are, and through effective representation, they may be able to either successfully defend you against the allegation, or negotiate a resolution to protect your driver’s license.