Virginia’s Law on Passing a School Bus
Virginia has two statutes that deal with passing a school bus.
Va. Code 18.2-859 says:
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.
But this statute may not apply 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, or
- the 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.
Reckless Driving is a Class 1 Misdemeanor – it is not a regular ticket. Penalties for a Class 1 Misdemeanor are up to 1 year in jail, and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Reckless Driving also carries 6 DMV demerit points.
Va. Code 18.2-844 is a nearly identical statute, but a violation is subject to a $250 civil fine. This “non-reckless version” of passing a school bus carries 4 DMV demerit points.
If you are charged with passing a school bus, there are several considerations to keep in mind. First, an attorney can review the facts specific to your case, and determine if the Commonwealth can prove all the elements of the offense. Second, an attorney can then work to negotiate a reasonable resolution, if necessary. This may include having you take a driver’s improvement course. Possible resolutions can include having the Reckless Driving offense reduced to the civil infraction version. Alternatively, there may be other violations that can be worked out that will have a lesser effect on your driving record. If the facts are in your favor, it may be worth it to try the case. If that happens, your attorney should know what evidence is needed, and how to introduce evidence in your favor, while minimizing evidence harmful to you.