School Bus Stop Arm 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, which is formerly known as the school bus stop arm violation. 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 school bus stop arm laws 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 a 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.

To see just how successful our approach is, here are some representative school bus stop-arm violation case results:

State v. N.C.

Charges: School Bus Stop Arm Violation – Gross Misdemeanor

Resolution: Dismissed. The client is an older woman and had no prior record. This charge was extremely burdensome to her and she knew she made a mistake. Without any true legal defense to work with, the North Star team set out to humanize their client and presented a strong plea negotiation. Realizing this was a deserving defendant, the prosecutor – to his credit – dismissed the case, believing what we explained about our client and that she would not pose a problem going forward. Another incredible outcome for a more than deserving client.

State v. B.N.

Charges: School Bus Stop Arm Violation – Gross Misdemeanor

Resolution: Continuance for Dismissal. The prosecution costs were minimal and the client is able to maintain a perfect driving record.

State v. S.E.

Charges: Misdemeanor School Bus Stop Arm Violation

Resolution: Stay of adjudication. The state initially demanded a plea to the count as charged with a significant fine. After some negotiating, the state reduced its offer to a petty misdemeanor, which is a non-crime and not a bad outcome. Undeterred, the North Star team knew how to leverage a potential contested hearing into an outcome in which the client will earn a dismissal after the one-year probationary period on the stay of adjudication. And the fine remained the same as the original offer. Point being, the North Star team correctly navigated this case to get the client the best possible outcome to avoid creating a criminal record over a traffic matter.