When is passing a school bus illegal in Virginia?

buses stopped

It comes as a surprise to a lot of Virginia drivers that it is against the law to pass any school bus which is stopped on a highway, private road, or school driveway and is loading or unloading children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons.

The law states that you must remain at a complete stop until all passengers are clear of the area and the bus begins to move again.

Failure to do so could result in a reckless driving ticket (a misdemeanor in Virginia).

Even if you do not see any police officers in the surrounding area, do not think that you can pass the school bus and avoid penalties. Virginia law allows localities to authorize the school division to install video-monitoring systems onto school buses for the purpose of catching those who fail to follow this law. If the video catches you, you can expect to receive a summons for the violation in the mail.

The summons will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle as indicated by the Department of Motor Vehicles. However, since the owner of the vehicle is not necessarily the violator, the owner of the vehicle has the chance to rebut.  During the 2016 session, the General Assembly passed House Bill 168 which states that the owner may rebut in one of three ways: (1) by filing an affidavit stating that he was not the operator of the vehicle at the time, (2) by testifying in court and under oath that he was not the operator of the vehicle at the time, or (3) by providing a police report showing that the vehicle was stolen prior to the time of the violation.

The law also adds that in addition to receiving a summons, violators will also receive information about how to file an affidavit to rebut the violation and the address to which the affidavit should be mailed.

These amendments will go into effect on July 1st, 2016 and can be found in § 46.2-844 of the Code of Virginia.

If you have any questions about Virginia traffic law, or Virginia traffic violations, please feel free to reach out and contact the traffic attorneys of Winslow & McCurry, PLLC at (804)-423-1382.