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Reckless Driving for Passing a Stopped School Bus

Reckless driving is no small charge in Virginia. To avoid harsh penalties and other ramifications of conviction, you’ll need to partner with an experienced reckless driving defense attorney. Fortunately, S&R Law Firm is here to help. Schedule a free case evaluation today.

If you’ve been charged with reckless driving for passing a stopped school bus, you should know that Virginia takes school bus safety very seriously. Violations of the laws designed to protect children can result in serious consequences for the accused, whether or not they’re guilty.

As top criminal defense attorneys in Virginia, we’ve helped numerous clients beat reckless driving charges, including charges for passing a stopped school bus. Doing so, however, requires you to understand the nature of your charges and exactly what’s at stake.

This article will provide a comprehensive explanation of reckless driving for passing a stopped bus under Virginia Code § 46.2-859, as well as potential penalties, legal consequences, defense strategies and more.

Need legal help now? Every moment you delay could hurt your defense. When you’re ready to face your charges head-on and start defending your future, we’re here to provide you with legal counsel and reassurance. Call our law office at (703) 273-6431 to get started.

The Legal Framework: Virginia Code § 46.2-859

Virginia Code § 46.2-859 addresses the offense of passing a stopped school bus, one of the many violations considered to be reckless driving in the Commonwealth.

The law is straightforward: When a school bus is stopped with its warning lights and stop sign arm activated, all other drivers must come to a complete stop until the bus continues its route or until the bus driver signals that it is safe to proceed.

Here are the key provisions of Virginia Code § 46.2-859:

  • If you fail to stop for a school bus that has stopped to load or unload passengers, you may be charged with reckless driving.
  • This law applies to vehicles approaching a stopped school bus from any direction, whether they are traveling behind the bus, alongside it or approaching the bus from the opposite direction on an undivided highway.

If found guilty of passing a stopped school bus, you may end up being charged with reckless driving in Virginia—a serious misdemeanor and potential felony charge. A criminal record is just one of the many serious repercussions you may incur as a result of violating this particular traffic law.

Penalties for Reckless Driving for Passing a Stopped School Bus

In most cases, conviction for passing a stopped school bus is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor—the most serious type of misdemeanor in Virginia.

The potential penalties for reckless driving in this context can be severe and life-altering. These typically include the following:

  • Criminal record. Regardless of whether you’re charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, a lesser misdemeanor or, in extreme cases, a felony, your charge will go on your criminal record and affect you for years to come.
  • Fines. Depending on the specific details of your case, you may be ordered to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines.
  • Suspension of driver’s license. In certain cases, conviction can result in the suspension of your driving privileges, especially if you already had several points on your driving record.
  • Higher insurance premiums. A reckless driving conviction in Virginia automatically adds six points to your driving record. Even if your record was clear beforehand, six points is enough to make your insurance premiums skyrocket overnight.
  • Barriers to employment and education. Securing and maintaining gainful employment is much more difficult after you have a criminal record. Any employer who requires a background check (which is many) may automatically reject your application based on your criminal history. A criminal record can also hinder educational opportunities, especially if you’re preparing for a career that requires a background check.
  • Potential jail time. If convicted of reckless driving for passing a stopped school bus in VA, you may end up spending several months or even a year in jail. After your release, you may struggle to rebuild your personal, social and professional life to where it was before your conviction.

Ultimately, the price of these penalties is simply too high to pay—especially if you’re not guilty. That’s why it’s critical you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to prepare a rock-solid, custom-designed legal defense.

Possible Defense Strategies

Defending against reckless driving charges for passing a stopped school bus can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. A skilled criminal defense attorney can employ various strategies to challenge the prosecution’s case and protect your rights.

Lack of Intent

One possible defense strategy is to argue that you did not intentionally pass the stopped school bus. This might be the case if you didn’t see the bus’s warning lights or if you had a legitimate reason to believe it was safe to proceed. This is also a viable defense strategy if you passed the bus in an effort to prevent a different accident from occurring.

Faulty Equipment

It’s possible that the school bus’s warning lights or stop sign arm weren’t functioning properly, and as a result, you didn’t receive signals to stop. If you can demonstrate that the school bus’s equipment was faulty and contributed to the misunderstanding, it may serve as a viable defense strategy.

Witness Testimonies

If there were witnesses to the incident who can provide testimony that supports your version of events, their statements may play an instrumental role in your defense. Witness testimonies that can corroborate your account and cast doubt on the prosecution’s case are often invaluable assets in cases like these.

Video Evidence

In some cases, your attorney may be able to help you secure video evidence from traffic cameras, surveillance cameras or dashcams to support your story. Video footage can often provide a clear, unimpeachable account of the incident as it actually took place.

Constitutional Violations

If you were the victim of officer misconduct at the time of your traffic stop or arrest, it may be grounds on which to suppress evidence or have your charges dismissed entirely. If you believe that the officer or officers handling your case violated your constitutional rights, it’s important to discuss the situation with your attorney.

At the end of the day, there are myriad defense strategies you can use to fight your reckless driving charges. An experienced reckless driving defense attorney can help you select the best defense strategy for the specific circumstances and details of your case.

S&R Law Firm: Trusted Traffic Violation Defense Attorneys in Virginia

If you’ve been charged with reckless driving for passing a stopped school bus, you’re facing two violations that Virginia takes extremely seriously: reckless driving and endangering a child.

In order to combat these charges and avoid the life-threatening consequences of conviction, you’ll need to work with a criminal defense attorney who has a proven track record winning cases like yours. Look no further than S&R Law Firm, premier criminal defense attorneys based in Fairfax and serving the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.

When you’re ready to fight for your life, your future and your peace of mind, we’re here to help. Get started by scheduling a free consultation online or by calling our law firm at (703) 273-6431.

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