James K. Minick

James K. Minick

Passing or failing to stop for a school bus is a serious offense that does not see much sympathy from the court system. Since the various crimes associated with school bus offenses were designed with the concept of protecting children on their way to school, offenders do not have much wiggle room when it comes to punishment. Unlike other traffic offenses, school bus offenses are not eligible for prayer for judgment continued relief. The following offenses break down the required elements and the punishments given upon conviction. The State must also prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt before conviction.

Passing A Stopped School Bus

Elements

A person is guilty if they:

  1. Drive
  2. A vehicle and
  3. Approach, from any direction, on the same street, highway, or public vehicular area
  4. A school bus
  5. That is
    (a) Displaying its mechanical stop signal or flashing red lights and
    (b) Is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers and
  6. Passes or attempts to pass the school bus
  7. Before the bus’s mechanical stop sign has been withdrawn, the flashing lights have been turned off, and the bus has started to move

It is important to note that under element 2, this offense applies to any vehicle, not just a motor vehicle. The bus must have plainly visible front and rear signs containing the words “school bus” under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-217(b).

Punishment

If a person is guilty of passing a stopped school bus, they are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-217(e). Additionally, under this offense, a defendant may not receive a prayer for judgment continued under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-217(e).

Failure to Stop or Remain Stopped for a School Bus

Elements

A person is guilty if they:

  1. Drive
  2. A vehicle and
  3. Approach, from any direction, on the same street, highway, or public vehicular area
  4. A school bus
  5. That is
    (a) Displaying its mechanical stop signal or flashing red lights and
    (b)Is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers and
  6. (a) Fails to bring the vehicle to a full stop or
    (b) Fails to remain stopped
  7. Until the bus’s mechanical sign has been withdrawn, the flashing lights have been turned off, and the bus has started to move.

Punishment

If a person is guilty of failing to stop or remain stopped for a school bus, they are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-217(e).

Felony Passing or Failure to Stop for a School Bus

Elements

A person is guilty if they:

  1. Willfully
  2. Violate N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-217(a) by
    (a) Passing or attempting to pass a stopped school bus or
    (b) Failing to stop or remain stopped for a school bus and
  3. Strikes any person
  4. Causing serious bodily injury

The person who was struck by the defendant does not have to be getting on or getting off of the bus.

Punishment

If a person is guilty of felony passing or failure to stop for a school bus, they are guilty of a Class I felony under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-217(g).

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