78.8 F
The Villages
Friday, July 12, 2024

Expect a stiff fine if you pass a school bus

Lady Lake Police Chief Chris McKinstry
Lady Lake Police Chief Chris McKinstry

No matter where in Florida you may live, keeping our children and students safe is a community responsibility. There are many guidelines put in place to ensure that our students arrive to and from school safely every single day – designated crosswalks, Community Service Aides, seat belt laws and so on. But one law that is absolutely crucial – and yet often gets ignored – is ALWAYS stopping behind a school bus.

The State of Florida has enacted laws that require every single driver to stop when a school bus has its “Stop” sign extended and its red lights flashing. But sometimes impatient drivers may think to themselves, “There are no children crossing the street, and I’ll drive very slowly so I can stop if I see one. I don’t have time to sit and wait for this bus!” Drivers like these should think again: the penalties for passing a stopped school bus could literally stop you in your tracks for quite a long time.

What Will Happen If I Pass a Bus?

Anyone caught passing a stopped school bus or speeding in a school zone can expect to get a costly fine. The State of Florida pulls no punches when it comes to the safety of its students and the Lady Lake Police Department simply will not tolerate violations that could harm a child.

We also take into account which side of the bus you chose when violating the law.  While neither side is necessarily “safer,” the amount of danger to kids sharply increases if you pass the bus on the right-hand side, as this is the side that the children use to step off of the bus, and therefore are more likely to be struck by your car.

  • If you pass the bus on the right-hand side, you will pay a minimum fine of $265 for your first offense.  A second offense within 5 years of this nature carries an additional $265 fine, as well as the suspension of your license for 180 days to one year and a mandatory court hearing.
  • Drivers who pass on the left-hand side are no less culpable for their actions.  Your first offense will cost you $165, and a second offense will add another $165 to that total, along with license suspension of 90 days to 6 months.

You will also be required to attend and successfully complete a basic driver improvement course and you must complete the course within the time allotted by the court which has dealt with your citation. Submission of successful completion proves to the state that you have reviewed and refreshed your knowledge of Florida traffic laws, including those dealing with school zones and school buses.

Remember – Kids are Just Kids!

Although any parent whose child takes the bus to and from school has no doubt cautioned them about the dangers of traffic, we need to remember that children are still young and still learning. With all of the distractions and noises that are abundant on school busses, it’s easy to imagine a child stepping off of the bus and not being able to hear oncoming traffic. We are the adults; it is our duty to abide by the laws put in place and give our children a safe environment in which to learn, play and grow.

On behalf of the men and women of the Lady Lake Police Department, we wish everyone a productive and safe school year.

Chris McKinstry is chief of police in Lady Lake.

Response to Laura Darpino’s call to stop complaining

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of Monarch Grove resident offers rebuttal to Lady Lake reader who called on Villagers to stop complaining or move back north.

Marco Rubio distracts from the real issues

A Village of Virginia Trace resident has harsh criticism of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for distracting a crowd from the real issues facing our nation.

There are steps we can take to keep outsiders out of The Villages

A Village of Rio Grande resident, in a Letter to the Editor, offers ideas for stopping outsiders from gaining access to The Villages.

Amenity fees help us keep our property values strong

A Village of Buttonwood resident contends that amenity fees are key to keeping up property values in The Villages.

Stop complaining or just go back up north!

A Lady Lake reader urges Villagers to stop complaining or go back up north. Read her Letter to the Editor.