School is back in session here in Southwest Florida and that means contesting with school buses on the road for the next several months. For new drivers, especially those who may have gotten their license in the summer, this means being aware of new challenges and rules present while school is in session.
You can’t afford to make mistakes behind the wheel and neither can your children, so it’s important to make sure the whole family knows the rules of the road. Titan Law wants to equip you with the right knowledge to protect yourself, your children, and your community with some legal and safety tips this school year.
Florida Penalties for Failing to Stop for a School Bus
Florida had an issue in recent years with drivers hitting and severely injuring or even killing children waiting for school buses. This is exactly why Florida now has some of the stiffest penalties of any state in the country for drivers who fail to stop for a school bus and those who pass a school bus on the side where children enter and exit.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) announced DOUBLE penalties starting on January 1, 2021. With nearly 3,000 crashes involving school buses in Florida in 2022 alone, you and your children who just got their license need to be aware of when you are able to pass a school bus and when you must stop.
The below diagram from FLHSMV is a great reminder.
Essentially, anyone following behind a school bus (whether in the same lane or a nearby lane traveling in the same direction) MUST stop when the bus stops and opens the stop arm. Anyone traveling in the other direction also MUST stop in these circumstances unless there is a divider or unpaved section between you and the bus. It’s important to still proceed with caution in those situations, however, because children may attempt to cross the divider to get home.
Penalties include moving violations, required Driver Improvement Course upon conviction, four points on your license, and a minimum fine of $165 for passing and a minimum fine of $265 if that passing move takes place on the side where children enter or exit the bus.
The Cameron Mayhew Act took effect on July 1, 2017, which increases penalties if the incident results in the serious bodily injury or death of another person. Those penalties include 120 hours of community service in a trauma center or hospital, mandatory participation in a victim’s impact panel session, six points on your license, suspension of your license for at least a year, and a $1,500 fine. And yes, you can face jail time if the infraction is deemed to have been significant, negligent, or intentional.
Talk to an Attorney to Discuss Your Options
Our main goal in writing this article is to protect Florida children. We do not want to see children injured or worse due to negligent or careless driving. Everyone in your family needs to be aware of these laws.
But, we also know mistakes happen. Your kid doesn’t know the law or misunderstands the situation. You aren’t paying attention. We don’t believe you have to pay for these mistakes for the rest of your life. Contact Titan Law if you need representation when dealing with a severe traffic infraction to have your name and license cleared or to reinstate your license when the time comes.