1. #1
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    Angry passing a MOVING school bus

    Hi everyone,

    I've recently been reported by a witness that I had passed a school bus (a witness could be the school bus driver or someone drove by). But my situation really was, I did not pass a STOPPED school bus. I was just passing the school bus while it was MOVING (with no flashing lights or anything). The street is a 2-lane with opposite directions. The school bus was driving too slow so I decided to pass it by getting on the left side of the opposite traffic lane. Of course I had to make sure the opposite lane was clear and there was no other car in front of the bus. The street was devided with 2 yellow lines, the line on my side was dotted and the line on the other side was solid. What's the winning chance if I showed up in court and explained this to the judge? Would he believe me? Should I consider hiring a lawyer? Please give me some feedback... I'm so worried b/c in NJ, I can lose upto 5 points, my license can be suspended for 30 days, and community service or even jailtime if I'm convicted!! I can't believe this is happening to me.
    Last edited by titiquach; 09-29-2005 at 04:14 PM. Reason: misspell

  2. #2
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    DaveinUtah's Avatar
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    Here you go:

    http://www.njlaws.com/passing_school_bus.htm




    Here is something else:

    http://www.njtrafficlawcenter.com/pass_schb.htm

    In summary, school bus cases can be a disaster. It is always a great idea to try to get a school bus charge dropped to a careless driving charge. A school bus conviction carries five points. Therefore, it is a major win to get the charge dropped to only a two pointer. Most municipal courts will not permit a school bus charge to be dropped to a no pointer.

    The only way to beat a school bus case is to hope that the school bus driver does not show up for court. Moreover, the lawyer can subpoena the records from the school bus driver. The school bus driver has to continually check the safety devices for the school bus. Sometimes, the school bus driver keeps crummy records. Moreover, the statute reads that the driver must have at least notice from 40 feet away that a school bus is stopping. The driver can argue that the school bus driver put the flashing lights on too late, or activated the stop sign from the side of the bus too late, to enable the driver to make a full stop, in a safe manner.

    The key issue in school bus cases is how reasonable the driver was in the current factual situation. Moreover, many municipal court judges can be hardcore in these cases. Always research the individual judge in these types of cases. Also beware for the "vigilante" bus drivers. Many towns have vigilante bus drivers who make it their part time job to file their own complaints against violators. They can be demons to deal with. In summary, a school bus violation carries five points, and a conviction for this offense can easily double your insurance rates.
    If you ever have sprained ankle, give me a call.

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    Hmm... thanks for your responses, but I did google and found those sites you've posted. I even emailed the person who listed his email on the second link there. He didn't offer any advice except simply tells me to call him, of course b/c he's a lawyer. But 99% of the searches I find on the net are 'passing a STOPPED school bus' charges... there's nothing I found on 'passing a MOVING school bus'... maybe there's no charge for that... but I'm just very worried that the judge wouldn't believe me. Has anyone out there had similar experience??

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    Plead not guilty and explain your case yourself. Go back to where it happened and take a few pictures of the road and the visiability etc.

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    Thanks so much for your response. You just reminded me one thing that I should definitely do, is to take pictures of the street section when I passed the bus. I also have to write up what I need to say too since english is my second language and I'm usually very very shy in public. Is there anything else you can think of that I can prepare to show the judge to convince him to believe what I have to say?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by titiquach
    Thanks so much for your response. You just reminded me one thing that I should definitely do, is to take pictures of the street section when I passed the bus. I also have to write up what I need to say too since english is my second language and I'm usually very very shy in public. Is there anything else you can think of that I can prepare to show the judge to convince him to believe what I have to say?

    I would make sure the pictures are taken. If the bus driver is there, ask if that is where you passed him in the pictures. If he says yes, then ask if he has a stop there. If you are being honest, and he was moving, he doesn't have a child to pick up there, and you should win.
    If you ever have sprained ankle, give me a call.

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    I work in a different area of le, so maybe I don't understand, but passing a school bus in motion without its lights or it being stopped, I don't see what the problem is. Now back in my home state we had strict laws, but nothing saying you could not legally pass a bus in a zone permitted when the bus did not have its lights on ect.

  8. #8
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    On a non-legal standpoint, It's a good idea to stay far, far away from school busses. If I'm driving behind one, I usually stay AT LEAST 5-6 car lengths back. I try to avoid passing them or getting too close. In the chance that you do hit a school bus (or even tap it) your just begging for a lawsuit from Suzie and Bobby

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    I just hope the witness won't show up, so I'll have a more chance of winning!
    For some reason if I lost at the county court, can I request for an appeal and hire a lawyer? Does anyone know what's the cost for a lawyer in this case? I want to be prepared for the worse scenario! Thanks!

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    [QUOTE=RabbitMPD]On a non-legal standpoint, It's a good idea to stay far, far away from school busses. If I'm driving behind one, I usually stay AT LEAST 5-6 car lengths back. I try to avoid passing them or getting too close. In the chance that you do hit a school bus (or even tap it) your just begging for a lawsuit from Suzie and Bobby

  11. #11
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    Non LEO with question here;

    Can anyone tell me precisely which law is in fact being broken here if the event happened exactly as the OP described?

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    Who actually wrote you the ticket? Since no officer witnessed the supposed violation they cannot sign a ticket against you. The witnesses HAVE to show up since they are the ones that had to sign the complaint otherwise case dismissed. Something doesn't sound right to me at all on this one.

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    See this thread proves that with a legitimate question from someone outside ther LE community we can have a logical and not BASHING anyone thread here. Geee nice work guys.
    Good luck with your ticket... I dont know if there is a law in PA for passing a school bus thats NOT FLASHING it lights an stop sign. Maybe like some vehicles MUST stop at R.R. crossings or can not turn on red. Maybe we cant just pass a school bus regardless of what its doing. Plus if you havent gotten a ticket or notice to apear in court yet than u didnt get a ticket. How recently is recently???
    I got nothing for now

  14. #14
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    I have never heard it illegal before to pass a moving school bus. Unless it is done so unsafely, like any other unsafe passing violation.

    Where you in a residential area, what was the speed zone?

    Look at your citation and there should be a state or city code listed. Go look up that code and do some research on what your charge actually is...ask for an explanation from the officer, dont be shy, but be polite.

    If your not guilty - you will need to go to court. It is the states burden to find you guilty. Right now you are still innocent.
    Retired 02/01/13

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    The code I was charged with was exactly NJ's code for a 'passing a stopped school bus' charge (39:4-128.1). I got my ticket in postal mail, about 2 days after the incident. On the ticket under "Signature of Complaining Witness, was written "Info in belief" and then somebody's name (I can't even read the handwriting for the name). And next to that was the officer's ID#. Therefore I believe the someone saw the incident and reported to an officier?? Do you I should talk to this officer (I have his ID#) about this incident before the court appearance? I want to explain to him what happened and maybe find out who the witness was.
    After the court appearance, is that it? I mean, will I have another chance to hire a lawyer for an appeal or something if I lost?

  16. #16
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    Talking to the officer will do you no good, he's not the one who wrote you the ticket. The ticket must have been signed by the bus driver or some other citizen complainant. Go to court and explain your side of the story, being that this ticket wasn't issued by a police officer you have a very good chance at winning this. If you hire a lawyer you have an even better chance, but only you can decide if it's worth the money you'll spend.

    On a side note something still is kind of fishy and it leads me to believe one of two things. Since there are VERY few people that still want to sign a complaint when you explain to them they have to go to court and testify about it either A. you did more than you are telling us and screwed up real bad or B. you ran into some major pain in the *****, idiot who has nothing better to do than stick their nose in other people's business. I'll hold off on deciding which one it is yet.

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    Even though I didn't know the penalty for passing a stopped school bus, but I knew better to never pass a stopped school bus when it's loading/unloading children. I'm very sure that when I decided to pass the bus, it had already started moving and there were no lights flashing. Maybe the witness had a bad morning or something and I ran into him/her!
    I'm very nervous about this whole thing and I don't think I can stand in front of the judge and tell him my side of the story well... I don't want to risk my license b/c I can't live without having my car (I commute 1 hr 1-way to work and there's no public transportation). I think I'll hire an attorney. Does any one know what's the total cost for hiring an attorney for school bus case? Please let me know, I just hope I can afford.

  18. #18
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    For NJ Municipal Court a good attorney should run you about $500 give or take. If you truly did pass the bus while it's moving I wish you luck, god knows I hate being stuck behind them too.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by titiquach
    I was just passing the school bus while it was MOVING (with no flashing lights or anything). The street is a 2-lane with opposite directions. The school bus was driving too slow so I decided to pass it by getting on the left side of the opposite traffic lane. Of course I had to make sure the opposite lane was clear and there was no other car in front of the bus. The street was devided with 2 yellow lines, the line on my side was dotted and the line on the other side was solid.
    Quote Originally Posted by titiquach
    I'm very sure that when I decided to pass the bus, it had already started moving and there were no lights flashing.
    hmmmm...... Sounds like bus was just taking off from a stopped position and not "moving" down the road at a speed to be passed, like originally stated. Could be me, I feel there is more to it... sorry
    Last edited by Charlie31; 10-01-2005 at 05:50 PM.
    Charlie 31, HPPD

    "Evil is a fact not to be explained away, but to be accepted; and accepted not to be endured, but to be conquered. It is a challenge neither to our reason nor to our patience, but to our courage."

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