A school bus on the road in Albany County is a frustrating sight for many drivers. Buses take up a lot of space on the road and make frequent stops, causing significant traffic problems and delays. It’s also hard to pass a school bus, and there are strict rules on when and where drivers can do so legally. But in peak traffic conditions, it can be tough to know when these rules apply, even as the police watch drivers closely for potential infractions.

If you’ve received a ticket for illegally passing a school bus in Albany County, the New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers can help. Our firm focuses solely on traffic tickets to provide you with the high-quality representation you need for these specific matters. We know New York’s traffic ticket laws inside and out, allowing us to tailor your defense to the circumstances of your case. Call us today or complete our contact form for a free consultation with our Albany County traffic ticket defense lawyers.

New York Laws on Passing School Buses

It’s not always illegal to pass a school bus in New York. According to New York law and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, here are the rules for passing a stopped school bus:

  • If you see a stopped school bus with its red warning lights flashing, you have to stop for it. This rule applies regardless of whether you are behind the bus or are approaching it from the front.
  • You must also stop if a school bus has stopped because another bus in front of it is picking up or dropping off passengers.
  • If you approach a school bus from the front on a divided highway or a road with a paved turning lane, you still have to stop if the bus has its red lights flashing.
  • You cannot pass a school bus or keep approaching it from the front until the bus resumes moving or the driver or a police officer signals that it’s OK to pass them.

Penalties for Illegally Passing a School Bus

New York law enforcement takes the safety of school passengers seriously and watches drivers closely for potential traffic violations. Each violation will add five points to your driver’s license. Furthermore, the potential penalties for illegally passing a school bus in New York include:

  • First offense – $250-$400 fine, up to 30 days in jail, or both
  • Second offense within three years – $600-$750 fine, up to 180 days in jail, or both
  • Third or subsequent offense within three years – $750-$1,000 fine, up to 180 days in jail, or both

Other Consequences of a Ticket for Illegally Passing a School Bus

While the penalties for illegally passing a school bus are substantial, a ticket could have additional consequences beyond fines, jail time, and points on your license. Some additional consequences could include:

  • Injuries to Passengers: Illegally passing a school bus poses a significant risk to the safety of schoolchildren boarding or disembarking the bus. In the worst-case scenario, your actions could lead to injuries or even fatalities, which is a heavy burden to carry both emotionally and legally.
  • Subsequent Personal Injury Lawsuits: If your actions result in an accident that causes injuries to passengers or pedestrians, you could face legal liability in the form of personal injury lawsuits against you.
  • Driver’s License Suspension: Depending on the severity of the offense and your driving history, you could have your driver’s license suspended. A suspension can significantly impact your daily life, limiting your independence.
  • Increased Insurance Premiums: Insurance companies do not look kindly on traffic violations, especially those involving the safety of children. As a result, you could see a substantial increase in your auto insurance premiums.
  • Damage to Reputation: Being cited for illegally passing a school bus can also tarnish your reputation. People often see this type of violation as a disregard for child safety, which can lead to negative judgments from peers, employers, and the community.
  • Employment Consequences: If you drive for your job and need a clean driving record, a ticket can jeopardize your employment status. Employers might view this violation as a liability, especially in roles involving transportation or childcare.

Ways to Challenge a Ticket for Illegally Passing a School Bus

Challenging a ticket for illegally passing a school bus can seem daunting, but there are several strategies an attorney can employ to contest the charges. Here are some potential defenses they might consider:

  • Questioning the Visibility of the Bus’s Warning Lights: One common defense is to question whether the school bus’s warning signals were fully visible when you passed it. Factors like obstructed views, poor weather conditions, or malfunctioning signals can all play a role in this defense strategy.
  • Disputing the Officer’s Perspective: Another approach is to challenge the police officer’s viewpoint or the accuracy of their observation. This could involve presenting evidence that the officer’s position did not provide a clear view of the alleged violation.
  • Mistaken Identity: In some cases, it is possible to argue that the officer mistook your vehicle for another. Your attorney can support this defense by showing that your vehicle was elsewhere at the time of the alleged violation.
  • Necessity: While difficult to prove, you may have had to pass the school bus to avoid greater harm, such as preventing an accident.
  • Technical Defenses: Depending on the circumstances, you can use legal technicalities to challenge the ticket, such as the ticket not being filed correctly or the officer not adhering to proper procedures to challenge the ticket.

Contact Our New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers Now

The potential consequences of a traffic ticket are anything but minor, and they can have a substantial negative impact on your daily life. Don’t simply accept the ticket. Instead, get experienced legal help to fight back and avoid the worst outcomes of a conviction.

The New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers are ready to aid your defense and help you put this episode behind you. Call us or reach out online for a free consultation, and put us in your corner today.