• Coastal South Law

What is the Penalty for Passing a Stopped School Bus in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, drivers are prohibited from passing a stopped school bus. If you drive past a school bus that is in the process of picking up or letting off riders, you may be subject to a fine, demerit license points, and jail time. This law is intended to protect students from being injured or killed by a driver that is suddenly breezing by.

It is important to know what the law is as well as the consequences of passing a stopped school bus in North Carolina.


What is a Stopped School Bus, and Why is it Important?

A stopped school bus is a serious safety hazard for students and drivers. Stopped school buses create dangerous conditions for students as they wait to board or exit the bus. The National Safety Council defines a stopped school bus as "a vehicle that is stationary or moving slowly or at a stop, with its red warning lights flashing." North Carolina General Statute § 20-217 mentions that drivers should never overtake a stopped school bus that is dropping off or picking up children and should always use extreme caution when following a moving school bus.


Penalties for Passing a Stopped School Bus in North Carolina

In North Carolina, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus. If you are caught breaking this law, you could face serious consequences.


First, you would be fined $500. If you have previous convictions for violating this law, your driver's license will be revoked for a year. Your insurance rates will increase because of your conviction. This is because convicted offenders have four points added to their insurance. These four insurance points mean that your insurance rates can increase by 80% for three years after a conviction.

The offender will receive five demerit license points. Demerit points are a system used in North Carolina to regulate drivers. The points are accumulated when a driver commits traffic violations. Drivers can lose their license if they accumulate too many demerit points. The system is designed to help drivers improve their driving skills and become more responsible drivers.


Are There Any Defenses for Passing a Stopped School Bus in North Carolina?

There are a number of defenses that drivers can use if they are charged with passing a stopped school bus. One defense is that the driver had reasonable grounds to believe the bus was not stopped. Another defense is that the driver was passing through an intersection, and the school bus was not obstructing their path. Finally, the driver may also argue that they had consent from the school bus operator to pass.


If a driver can demonstrate that they were unaware of the bus stop or traffic conditions and had a reasonable excuse for not stopping, then the offense may be reduced or even dismissed.


For these, however, it is best to speak with an attorney who is experienced in handling traffic law. If you have been charged with any traffic violation, such as passing a stopped school bus in North Carolina, contact our law firm.


Our skilled attorneys will work with you to get the charges reduced or dismissed.

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