State Representative Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) passed out of the Illinois House today a bill that would double the fines for people who drive around a stopped school bus that is picking up or dropping off school children. First offense fines will be increased from $150 to $300 and second offense fines will be increased from $500 to $1,000.
“This is a public safety bill suggested by a constituent to help save lives and protect our children and grandchildren from people who ignore the stop signs and safety gates opened on school buses,” explained Rep. Darren Bailey, a former school board member. “These fines have not been increased for many years and just as all fines in law, these fines are intended to help stop people from putting children in danger.”
Current law requires a driver to stop before meeting or overtaking (from either direction) a school bus stopped for the purpose of loading or unloading students. The law applies to any and all locations including, but not limited to, highways, roadways, private roadways, parking lots, and school property. A full stop is required if the school bus is displaying the visual signals specified in the code (i.e. flashing lights, stop signal arm extended, etc.) and the driver should not proceed until the visuals signals cease, the school bus resumes motion, or the school bus driver signals the vehicle to proceed. The law does not require a driver to stop on a four-lane highway when traveling on the opposite two lanes from the school bus.
Passing a school bus while loading or unloading can lead to a driver’s license suspension. Currently, the Illinois Secretary of State will automatically suspend the driver’s license of anyone convicted of violating this law for a period of three months. In addition, the court will impose a minimum $150 (hopefully $300) fine for a first offense plus mandatory court costs. A second or subsequent conviction for this offense within five years of the first conviction will result in a one-year driver’s license suspension and a minimum mandatory $500 (hopefully $1,000) fine.
This bill now goes to the Illinois Senate for consideration.