The law relating to the improper passing of a school bus is under the N.J.S.A. 39:4-128.1. According to the law, a driver who is on a highway passing a school bus which is only used to transport children to and from school, day camps in the summer or other related school activities must stop at least 25 feet from the bus if the bus has stopped to discharge or receive any passengers on-board.
The driver of the bus is not permitted to proceed on his journey until all the pupils/students have either entered the bus, or left the bus and crossed over to the other side of the road, and the flashing red lights turn off.
For the statute to be applicable, the bus must be labeled a school bus by installing a sign on the front and back of the bus, in clear lettering at least four inches high in size. Drivers who are coming from the opposite side from the bus on a highway which is split by a physical traffic separator or safety island are not required to stop for the school bus. They, however, are required to reduce their speeds to 10mph or less, and must not resume previous speed until after their vehicle has passed the bus and all children who may have alighted from the bus.
Where a school bus is directly parked at the curb to collect children directly from school, or day camp or other school activity, the drivers do not need to stop if the bus is parked in the same side as the location from where the children are coming to enter the bus. They, however, must not travel at a speed above 10mph.
When presenting a case in a court of law under this offense, it is usually inferred that the registered owner of a vehicle found in violation of this statute is the one who committed the infraction.
Accused persons who are first-time offenders convicted under this offense may be subject to a fine of at least $100, a jail term not exceeding 15 days or an equivalent amount of time in community service.
Subsequent offenders under this school bus violation may be required to pay at least $250 in fines and may additionally be sentenced to a jail term of up to 15 days. If the court determines that the violation was deliberate, the offender may also lose their license for a period of time to be decided by the judge.
Conviction for improper passing of a school bus also adds five points to your traffic record and insurance record, the latter resulting in surcharges and increased premiums.
If you have been charged or received summons for improper passing of a school bus, please contact us at Zapicchi & Liller immediately to receive expert assistance from our experienced and highly trained attorneys who have successfully litigated hundreds of similar cases.