New York State has made it official – it’s getting tougher with motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses starting in September. The new law was approved several months ago by the state legislature and signed into law recently by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Drivers who illegally pass a stopped bus would face a $250 fine, with higher penalties for repeat violators. The cameras will be mounted on the stop sign that extends outward whenever a bus is stopped and will record any vehicle that passes it illegally.
Local government officials from across the state had been urging lawmakers to change the law to allow cameras. Districts may begin using the cameras just as fall classes begin.
According to news reports, the new law starts a five-year program that allows any county, city, town or village to install cameras on buses if the district agrees. The cameras have the potential to generate additional revenue for the local governments.
“No parent should ever have to worry that their child’s bus ride to and from school is anything other than safe and easy,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The Horseheads school district has cameras on more than half of its buses. Elmira school district officials were not available for comment.
State officials have estimated that motorists illegally pass stopped school buses tens of thousands of times each day in New York. During a one-day crackdown in May, police around the state issued 626 tickets for illegally passing a school bus, in addition to more than 1,600 tickets for other moving violations.
The state’s teachers union praised the new law. “It is our sincere hope that school districts will work quickly to begin installing stop-arm cameras so we can better hold accountable those who show blatant disregard for our kids,” said New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta.
Here is how it works …
- If you pass a school bus with its stop arm outstretched, a camera will snap a photo of your vehicle and your license plate in the act. The registered owner will receive a violation notice in the mail.
- The notice will have the date and time of the incident, the registration number of the vehicle, the identification number of the camera, and instructions for how to contest the fine.
- The new law sets an escalating series of fines for those caught by a school bus camera:
- $250 for a first violation.
- $275 for a second violation within an 18-month period.
- $300 for each violation subsequent violation within the same 18-month period.
- Local governments also can add a $25 late fee.
- The penalty is monetary — no points on your license, no increased insurance payments. But if you are stopped by a police officer for passing a school bus, the fines are up to $400 and five points for the first offense and $1,000 for a third offense, and can result in having your license temporarily revoked for repeated offenses.
Thanks for reading,
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 & 2019 Lawyer of the Year”