New Jersey Traffic Lawyer for Passing a School Bus Summons
School buses have an important job, namely, to safely transport children. Given this mission, New Jersey imposes serious penalties against those who pass a school bus that is in the process of picking up or dropping off children. While the rationale for enforcement of this law is obvious, the harsh fines, community service, points on your driver’s license record, and even jail which can result in a conviction can often be unwarranted. This why you need to strongly consider contacting one of the experienced NJ traffic ticket attorneys at our firm.
There are many legitimate explanation for someone to make the mistake of passing a school bus. For example, there may have been confusion as to whether the vehicle was actually stopped or regarding activation of the buses’ warning lights. The point is that there are a myriad of legitimate reasons for erroneously passing a school bus and a lawyer at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is ready to insure that you have every opportunity to avert a conviction. Whatever the reason behind the charge of passing a school bus, our attorneys can help you to build a strong defense and protect your best interests. Contact our law firm today at 877-450-8301 to learn more about how we can help.
Passing a School Bus in New Jersey – What You Need to Know
The New Jersey Traffic Code sets forth a motorist’s obligation to stop for a school bus, as well as the violation of passing a school bus. N.J.S.A. 39:4-128.1 provides that when a bus is on a road that is not divided by safety islands or other traffic separation devices, the driver of a vehicle must stop at least 25 feet from the bus if four circumstances exist:
- The bus is being used for the transportation from school, a summer day camp, or any school-connected activity;
- Children are loading or unloading the bus and have not yet safely reached the sidewalk;
- The bus is designated as a school bus by signage (signage must meet specific requirements,discussed below); and
- A red flashing light is being exhibited by the bus.
In addition to stopping 25 feet from the bus when the above criteria are satisfied, drivers are also required to pass a bus at a speed of no greater than 10 miles per hour in the event that a bus is parked at the curb with the purpose of receiving children from school (or a summer day camp or school related activity), and is on the same side of the street as the passing vehicle.
Penalties for Passing a School Bus
A conviction for violating 39:4-128.1 because you either failed to come to a complete stop or by passing the bus at a speed greater than 10 miles per hour results in severe penalties. For a first offense, you are subject to a fine of at least $100, imprisonment for not more than 15 days and a period of community service of up to 15 days. The consequences of a second conviction including a fine of at least $250 and up to 15 days in the county jail.
Defenses to Passing a School Bus
You can defend yourself against a passing a school bus charge, and doing so is within your best interest. Usually, the best strategy is to attempt to get the charge lowered from a passing a school bus violation to a charge of unsafe driving or a careless driving charge, both of which carry fewer points than does passing a school bus (although you can still expect a large fine). Downgrading the charge to improper passing, which is a four-point violation, is also preferable. If you cannot get the charge dropped or reduced, the next best strategy is to defend yourself against the charges. Some of the most common defenses to passing a school bus include:
- Bus did not have its lights on. I f the bus did not have flashing lights on indicating it that passing it was prohibited, and if you can prove it, you may be able to secure a not guilty conviction. You may also be able to argue that the bus driver activated the bus lights too late, to the point where making a safe stop was not possible.
- All children were safely from the bus. Another argument that you could make to defend yourself a passing a school bus charge is to prove that all children were safely from the bus and across the street at the time that you passed the bus. You may all argue that the bus was not designated as a school bus, as code requires that the bus display one sign indicating its usage on the front, one sign on the rear, and that each letter on each sign be at least four inches in height.
- Emergency. You may also be able to prove that you passed the bus out of necessity due to an emergency situation. You will have to prove that the situation was one that you did not cause, that was reasonable, and was one where you believe that you or another person was at risk of bodily harm.In many cases, it will be your word against the bus drivers. If the bus driver does not show up for court to testify against you, your odds are improved. If the prosecution requests a subpoena for the bus driver’s log – which you be incriminating – your attorney should have a strategy in place for protecting your interests. One issue may be to raise the issue of your right to a speedy trial, which could be breached if hearings are delayed while evidence is being collected. An attorney can also file motions to compel evidence, and motions to dismiss, when appropriate.
Contact an Experienced Motor Vehicle Summons Defense Attorney At Our Firm Now
By working with an experienced Motor Vehicle Violations Attorney in New Jersey, you can improve your chances of charges against you being dropped, reduced, or of securing an innocent conviction or, at the very least, a sentence that is not as harsh as the maximum penalties possible under the law. At the law offices of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we understand that there are many reasons why people pass school buses at times they are not permitted to do so, and also understand that many times, this passing is done out of misunderstanding of the law, and not because of intentional neglect. Regardless of the reason for your charge, we strongly believe that you deserve competent legal representation throughout your case.
Being convicted of passing a school bus can have a significant effect on your life and your driving privileges moving forward, as well as your finances. To learn more about how you can fight back against charges assessed against you, contact our talented New Jersey traffic violation attorneys today online or by phone. Your initial consultation is 100 percent free, and your consultation will be kept completely confidential.