Under Virginia law, reckless driving is a much more serious offense than a traffic violation. There are approximately 16 offenses that constitute reckless driving, and passing a stopped school bus is one of them. A reckless driving conviction for this reason is a misdemeanor offense, and you will have a permanent criminal record.
The Law on Passing a Stopped School Bus
Virginia’s reckless driving statute provides that drivers must stop their vehicle when approaching from any direction a stopped school bus that is on a roadway, private road, or school driveway for the purpose of letting on or discharging students, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons. A motorist is required to remain stopped until the persons getting on or off the bus are clear of the roadway, private road, or school driveway and the bus is moving. Violation of these requirements is considered reckless driving.
Penalties If You’re Convicted of Reckless Driving for Passing a Stopped School Bus
Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. You could face the following penalties if convicted:
- Up to one year in jail
- Fine of up to $2,500
In addition to these penalties, a conviction could have long-term consequences in your life after you have successfully completed your sentence. These include:
- Criminal record. Because reckless driving is a misdemeanor, you will have a permanent criminal record if convicted of this offense that can affect your ability to obtain a job and obtain a loan.
- Demerit points. You will have six demerit points on your driving record for two years, which can result in the increase in your automobile insurance rates.
- License suspension. Your driver’s license could be suspended for up to six months.
- Security clearance. If you need a security clearance for your job, you may lose this clearance if you are convicted of reckless driving—jeopardizing your job, as well.
The Commonwealth of Virginia and some schools take the offense of passing a stopped school bus very seriously. Some school districts are installing cameras on their school buses which are activated when the school bus stops and can record a video of a passing vehicle. The video is sent to the police department, and after being reviewed, the vehicle’s owner can be sent a reckless driving citation.
Given these harsh consequences, you need to build a strong defense if you are charged with reckless driving for passing a stopped school bus. Let Charles V. Hardenberg, PC, help fight the charges you face, so you achieve the best outcome. Find out more about how we can help. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation.