Sharing the road with school buses can be frustrating, and when the school year starts, it means even more congestion on the streets. Although the massive yellow vehicles are hard to miss, many drivers merely pass them as if they were another passenger car.
But this kind of disregard for school buses isn’t just dangerous. It’s illegal in Louisiana, and it can result in a traffic ticket with some serious penalties.
Passing school buses in Louisiana can mean major fines for drivers. However, many residents do not know the nuances laid out in the traffic ordinances that can lead to expensive tickets. At Crescent City Law, we help New Orleans residents fight traffic tickets of all kinds. That’s why, in this article, we discuss the laws for overtaking and passing a school bus, as well as the fines drivers can expect from violating these laws.
When to stop for a school bus in Louisiana
Although drivers are required to stop for school buses at certain times, it doesn’t mean that whenever you encounter a bus you must come to a complete stop. In the State of Louisiana, all school buses are legally required to have visual signs and signals to alert drivers that they must stop before overtaking or passing a school bus.
Typically, these signs will have a large “STOP” sign and flashing lights to alert drivers when they must come to a complete stop. To ensure the safety of school children on board, these lights are activated when the bus stops to load/unload students. If you see these lights, expect youngsters to be running around near your vehicle and come to a full stop.
According to Louisiana Revised Statute 32:80, you must always stop for any loading/unloading school bus, if:
- you and the school bus are traveling in the same direction
- you are approaching the school bus head-to-head on a two-lane highway
- you are approaching the school bus head-to-head on a three-lane highway with the center lane being a designated turn lane
- you are approaching the school bus head-to-head on a four-lane highway with no center designated turn lane
However, you are not legally required to stop if:
- you are approaching the school bus head-to-head on a divided highway with lanes separated by a median, neutral ground, or physical divider greater than 9 feet
- you are approaching the school bus head-to-head on a highway with at least two lanes of travel in each direction with an additional center lane that’s designated as a turn lane
Fines for illegally passing buses in Louisiana
Passing or overtaking a school bus can mean hefty fines, and in some cases, even prison time. While penalties vary from state to state, Louisiana imposes some of the most stringent in the country.
Here’s some figures to keep in mind:
- When driving around school buses in Louisiana, drivers must stop at least 30 feet away from a school bus, and cannot proceed until the bus resumes motion or the visual signs are no longer actuated.
- Drivers that do not follow these rules may face fines ranging from $100 to $500 and/or up to 6 months imprisonment.
- Additionally, violators may have their driver’s license suspended for 30 days for their first offense, 60 days for their second, and 1 year for their third.
Passing or overtaking a school bus in Louisiana can be very serious. In addition to hundreds of dollars in fines, violators may also see insurance premiums increase, or their licenses revoked.
Hire a New Orleans traffic attorney today
If you are facing a ticket for passing or overtaking a school bus, the potential penalties and all the traffic laws can seem overwhelming. However, an experienced and qualified attorney can help you navigate the nuances of Louisiana and New Orleans traffic laws, and help ensure that your rights are protected.