Passing a School Bus Violation in Minnesota
A traffic ticket that carries a heavy penalty is the passing of or failing to stop for a school bus in violation of Minn. Stat. 169.444. Due to the presence of children surrounding a school, it is easy to understand why the law exists and why it is considered such a serious crime. With that being said, the penalties involved – both criminal and collateral consequences – are very steep to endure and the reason why you should get a Minneapolis traffic tickets attorney involved to counsel you through the criminal proceedings.
There are two types of driving conduct that runs afoul of the statute. First, when a school bus is stopped and is displaying an “extended stop-signal arm and flashing red lights”, every driver must stop their vehicle at least 20-feet away from the school bus. Second, no driver may pass a school bus on the right-hand, passenger-door side “when the school bus is displaying the prewarning flashing amber signals”.
Violating either or both of these two rules is a crime – the level of which is dependent upon the conduct at issue. A simple violation of the above is a misdemeanor crime, leading to maximum criminal penalties of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. But, under certain circumstances, it may be a gross misdemeanor crime, which results in a maximum sentence of a year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. For instance, if you pass the bus when a child is outside the bus, it is a gross misdemeanor offense.
In addition to those criminal penalties, the collateral consequences are often just as serious. Upon a gross misdemeanor conviction or a second-time conviction, the driver’s license will be immediately revoked. For the second-time misdemeanor conviction in a five-year period, the revocation period is 30 days. It increases with each subsequent misdemeanor conviction to 90 days, 180 days, and 1 year. For gross misdemeanor convictions, the first offense results in a 90 day revocation period. It increases to 180 days for a second gross misdemeanor conviction, and 1-year for any more after that. Of note, there is no look-back window (i.e. a five-year window like misdemeanors) for gross misdemeanors. There is also a reinstatement fee upon satisfying the revocation period.
The reason for these serious criminal and collateral consequences is simple – protecting our children. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are a criminal that deserves to have a gross misdemeanor conviction on your record, which can impact any future job or housing searches. Hiring an attorney to not only fight the case, but to also work with you in getting a favorable outcome – one that could potentially keep any conviction off your record – is an important first step if you are ever charged with this crime.