Passing a stopped school bus is a form of reckless driving, whether the bus is carrying children, people with disabilities, or senior citizens. It does not matter whether you're traveling in the same direction or opposite direction of the bus, nor does it make a difference whether occupants were actually in the road when you passed.
§ 46.2-859 Passing a Stopped School Bus; Prima Facie Evidence
A person driving a motor vehicle shall stop such vehicle when approaching, from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons, and shall remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road or school driveway and the bus is put in motion; any person violating the foregoing is guilty of reckless driving. The driver of a vehicle, however, need not stop when approaching a school bus if the school bus is stopped on the other roadway of a divided highway, on an access road, or on a driveway when the other roadway, access road, or driveway is separated from the roadway on which he is driving by a physical barrier or an unpaved area. The driver of a vehicle also need not stop when approaching a school bus which is loading or discharging passengers from or onto property immediately adjacent to a school if the driver is directed by a law-enforcement officer or other duly authorized uniformed school crossing guard to pass the school bus. This section shall apply to school buses which are equipped with warning devices prescribed in § 46.2-1090 and are painted yellow with the words "School Bus" in black letters at least eight inches high on the front and rear thereof. Only school buses which are painted yellow and equipped with the required lettering and warning devices shall be identified as school buses.
The testimony of the school bus driver, the supervisor of school buses or a law-enforcement officer that the vehicle was yellow, conspicuously marked as a school bus, and equipped with warning devices as prescribed in § 46.2-1090 is prima facie evidence that the vehicle is a school bus.
Although this form of reckless driving is taken very seriously, the statute is worded narrowly. Note that the vehicle must be yellow, have emergency lights for when it stops, and be labeled on the front and rear with the words “School Bus” in black letters to qualify as a school bus. Additionally, the bus must have been stopped for the purpose of picking up or dropping off passengers and have its emergency lights in operation for the statute to apply. If any of these criteria don't apply, you are not guilty of reckless driving under this statute.
Protecting Your Rights
Reckless driving is considered a criminal offense—not a simple traffic ticket. As such, a conviction means you'll face fines, jail time, and the stigma of a criminal record in addition to a license suspension and demerit points on your driving record.
Protect yourself by hiring an experienced reckless driving attorney who can work to build the strongest possible defense to reduce or drop the charge. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with Virginia reckless driving attorney Charles V. Hardenbergh.