Illinois lawmakers recently voted to increase fines for drivers who pass stopped school buses. House Bill 1873 recently passed. This legal measure doubles the fines for drivers who illegally pass a school bus from $150 to $300 for first-time offenders. Drivers convicted of subsequent offenses face fines between $500 and $1,000.
The Increased Fines for Passing School Buses Highly Controversial
State lawmakers engaged in a heated debate after the new House Bill before it passed by a 74-16 vote. Supporters of the bill argued that it would help protect school children as they get on and off their school buses. Some supporters of the new regulation argued that the fine should be significantly higher. One lawmaker pointed out that in some states, the fine for passing a stopped school bus is $10,000.
Critics of the proposition argued that increasing the fines will not deter people from passing stopped school buses. Critics also argued that raising the fines would only provide extra hardships for those who already have difficulties paying traffic violation fines. One representative pointed out that defendants who are unable to pay the potential $1,000 fine may lose their license and not be able to go to work and provide for their children.
Passing School Buses is All Too Common in Illinois
According to a survey conducted by ABC 7 in Chicago, Illinois school bus drivers reported more than 20,000 instances in which drivers passed busses with the STOP arm out in 2017. Drivers who pass school buses do put school children at risk. In 2018, a driver struck four siblings who were leaving a school bus in Indiana. Three of the siblings, including 6-year-old twins and their 9-year-old sister died. The other sibling suffered serious injuries.
That year, two adults and five students suffered injuries when a Florida driver hit them at the bus stop. The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services conducted a survey of school bus passing incidents in 38 states. The study found that approximately 15 million drivers could be illegally passing school buses every day of the 180-day school year.
Other Consequences for Passing a Stopped Bus in Illinois
Only the fine amount has changed as a result of this provision. The other provisions of the current law regarding passing a stopped bus have not changed. Currently, drivers who pass a stopped bus will have their driver’s licenses suspended for three months for first-time offenders. For a second violation, the defendant will face a license suspension for a year. Drivers whose licenses are suspended can apply for a restricted driver’s permit. These permits allow drivers to drive to and from work, but not anywhere else. It remains to be seen whether or not the increased fines fine will act as a deterrent to illegal school bus passing.
We Can Help
If you are facing charges for passing a stopped school bus, our lawyers can help. Contact the criminal defense lawyers at Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule your initial consultation.