NC has stiff penalties for passing stopped school bus - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

NC has stiff penalties for passing stopped school bus

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RALEIGH, N.C. - Thousands of motorists pass stopped school buses every day, and many of them may not even realize they are breaking the law.

It's an issue that has received intense attention in North Carolina, with 13 children being hit, and killed, at bus stops since 1999.

One survey on March 26 of this year recorded 429 times where a driver roared past a stopped school bus in Wake County alone. In Durham County, there were 89 violations that same day and Cumberland County had a whopping 210. Johnston County had just 22 and Orange County only eight.

Anyone ticketed for passing a stopped school bus faces a steep penalty.

Under North Carolina law, G.S. 20-217, drivers going either direction must stop when a school bus is stopped to let children off. Drivers are not supposed to continue until the bus has completed dropping the children off and begun to move again.

Drivers can pass a stopped school bus if their lane is separated from the bus by a physical barrier such as a median. Graphics provided by the Department of Motor Vehicles, shown above, break down all the rules.

A conviction for passing a stopped school bus is a hefty five points on a driver's record -- a steep penalty. Reckless driving is four points, for example, and driving on the wrong side of the road is four. Running through a stop sign is three points and speeding in a school zone is three points.

Drivers who are convicted face a $500 fine and are not eligible for a prayer for judgment.

A driver who passes a stopped school bus and hits someone will face a Class I felony and a minimum of $1,000. The penalty rises to a Class H felony and fine of $2,500 if someone is killed.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol has a form for people who see a motorist pass a stopped school bus. The form can be turned in to any school administrator or to the transportation department for a school system. Those administrators will make sure the form goes to the proper authorities.


WNCN will have special coverage of the issue Monday, Aug. 25, at 11 p.m. as investigative reporter Jonathan Rodriguez explores the scope of the problem - and what the public can do. We also invite the public to share in the discussion on Twitter at Brake4Buses.

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