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Stop! Don’t Pass That School Bus – What NC Drivers Need to Know

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

You’re cruising down the road when suddenly a school bus stops and flashes its red lights. Do you stop or keep going? If you’re in North Carolina, you better be ready to hit those brakes. Ignoring a school bus stop sign is not only dangerous, but it’s also illegal.

Now that summer is coming to a close, kids will resume taking the bus to and from school. When those big yellow buses hit the roads again, it shakes up our normal driving routines. And let’s be honest – some drivers just aren’t paying attention. The result? Too many dangerous errors and collisions around school buses.

Failing to stop for a school bus is a serious offense in NC, even if no children are hurt. It is important that we break down the North Carolina’s stop-arm law so you can avoid fines, license suspension, and even jail time.

The Safest Choice? Always Stop

When a school bus stops and extends its stop sign, all traffic in both directions must stop on two-lane and four-lane roads. The only exception? If you’re on a divided highway with a median separating you from the bus.

According to the Department of Public Safety, drivers might encounter these five situations. In most of them, drivers in all lanes of traffic in both directions are required to stop for a school bus:

  • Two-lane road: traffic in both directions must stop
  • Two-lane road with a center turning lane: traffic in both directions must stop
  • Four-lane road with no center median: traffic in both directions must stop
  • Four-lane road with a center median: only traffic following the bus must stop
  • Four or more lanes with a center turning lane: only traffic following the bus must stop

If you’re unsure of whether or not you have to stop, stop. No one wants to hit a child, much less be charged with a crime.

Big Fines and Charges for Failing to Stop

  It’s a Class 1 misdemeanor offense to fail to stop when you should have, even if no one was hurt. If you roll through a school bus stop sign, you’re looking at some hefty penalties:

  • Fines of $500 or more, even if no one was hurt
  • Misdemeanor charges
  • Felony charges if you hit someone
  • License suspension or revocation

If you are charged with a felony, the potential penalties become quite serious, including thousands of dollars in fines. A second offense ratchets up the consequences. And a third offense means you’ll lose your license permanently.

Be Vigilant. Don’t Become a Statistic

Every day, bus drivers in NC report over 700 stop sign violations. Don’t add to this dangerous problem.

Be alert when you see a school bus. Watch for children getting on and off. And never pass a stopped bus with its red lights flashing. Always look for kids when a school bus is nearby.

If you find yourself ticketed for a stop-arm violation, get legal help right away. An experienced attorney can help you avoid conviction, fines, and other penalties that put your driving privileges at risk.

As drivers, we all need to do our part to keep children safe. Remember to stop for school buses – children’s lives depend on it.



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