school-bus-stop-signYou may have been in a hurry to get to where you were going, and you found yourself stuck behind a school bus that was making frequent stops. You were going to be late, and it seemed safe to pass the stopped bus slowly and carefully. However, you didn’t know that passing a stopped school bus is a crime in Virginia, and now you’ve been charged with reckless driving. 

Virginia’s Reckless Driving Laws

When many people think about reckless driving, excessive speeding often comes to mind. It’s true that many reckless driving charges are related to speed, but several other actions can also result in reckless driving charges. 

Article 7 of the Code of Virginia describes reckless driving and improper driving. It lists over a dozen such offenses. One of these, Section 46.2-859, relates to passing a stopped school bus. 

Is Passing a School Bus Illegal?

Yes, Virginia Code Section 46.2-859 makes it a crime to pass a stopped school bus. According to the law:

  • A driver must stop when they see a school bus stopped on any road or driveway to let children, elderly individuals, or individuals with disabilities on or off the bus.
  • A driver must remain stopped until all of the individuals have safely crossed the road and the bus starts moving again

A driver does not need to stop for a school bus if:

  • The school bus is on a different road separated by a physical barrier or unpaved area
  • The school bus is loading or unloading passengers on a property next to the school, and a law enforcement officer or school crossing guard tells you to pass the bus

The law only applies to yellow school buses with the words “School Bus” in black letters at least eight inches high on the front and back and warning devices as specified in Virginia Code § 46.2-1090.

Potential Penalties and Long-Term Consequences

Receiving a ticket for reckless driving is much more serious than a simple speeding ticket. A reckless driving charge for passing a stopped school bus may be a Class 1 misdemeanor, and the potential penalties may include:

Jail time for passing a school bus is possible but not common. It is still a reckless driving charge, though, and it can have serious long-term consequences. The conviction stays on your Virginia driving record for 11 years and your permanent criminal record for life. This can affect driving privileges, employment opportunities, security clearance, and other facets of your life.

Why You Need a Reckless Driving Defense Lawyer

Slowly passing a stopped school bus may not seem like a big deal at the time. Receiving the ticket and facing the charge can reveal its potentially dire consequences. It is vital to consult with a reckless driving defense attorney right away. James E. Short has years of experience defending people charged with reckless driving. 

With in-depth knowledge of Virginia’s traffic laws, a skilled defense lawyer like James E. Short can assess your case and help weigh your options. A close understanding of local judges and prosecutors can also help with your case. Remember that the judge has some discretion in assessing penalties. They will look at factors like your past driving record and the specific circumstances of the reckless driving charge.

It is imprudent to face the courts alone. A reckless driving charge can have serious ramifications. It can lead to possible jail time and a permanent criminal record. Don’t leave this to chance.

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