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Motorists Reminded: Stop For That School Bus!

By Staff | Nov 15, 2016

In recent weeks, the Emmetsburg Police Department has issued several citations to drivers for violations of Iowa’s School Bus passing laws. Motorists have been cited for violations of the law because of confusion over when they need to stopfor a school bus.

If a school bus driver believes a violation has occurred, he or she submits a description of the violator’s vehicle and its license plate number to local law enforcement agencies.

The law enforcement agency is required to issue a citation when a report is filed. The county or city attorney must prosecute the violation as a simple misdemeanor for a first offense and a serious misdemeanor for subsequent violations. Judges must impose the mandated penalties, in accordance with the Code of Iowa, Chapter 321.372.

In Emmetsburg, one of the areas of concern has been a school bus stop in downtown Emmetsburg on Broadway Street, a four-lane thoroughfare. Under the Code of Iowa, anytime a school bus is stopped to load or discharge passengers and the bust has activated its flashing red lights and deployed the stop arm, vehicles behind the bus must stop in both lanes behind the bus on a four-lane roadway. The oncoming lanes do not need to stop in such a setting.

On a two-lane road, both lanes, coming towards the bus or following the bus, must stop as well.

Iowa’s School Bus laws were toughened in March of 2012, when Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law Senate File 2218, the “Keep Aware Driving – Youth Need School Safety Act,” commonly known as Kadyn’s Law. The act was named in memory of Kadyn Halverson, a seven-year old from Northwood, who was struck by a pickup as she tried to cross the road to board a school bus on May 10, 2011.

The law passed unanimously in the Iowa House and Senate with the purpos of preventing other tragic deaths and serious injuries to Iowa’s school children while boarding or unloading from a school bus.

The Act increased the criminal penalties for passing a stopped school bus and directed the Iowa DOT to enact rules that make illegally passing a stopped school bus a serious moving violation that triggers increasing periods of suspension for first, second and subsequent offenses.

Effective Aug. 15, 2012, the rule provides that a person’s Iowa driving privilege will be suspended 30 days for a first conviction, 90 days for a second conviction, and 180 days for a third or subsequent conviction.

In addition to license suspension, a fine for a first offense ranges from at least $250 to no more than $375. Additionally, a jail term of up to 30 days may be ordered in lieu of or in addition to the fine.

A?second offense would call for a fine of at least $315 but no more than $1,875, along with a possible term of imprisonment of up to one year.

Third and subsequent offenses call for fines of at least $315 but not more than $1,875 and possible inprisonment of up to one year.

Any school bus violation that results in serious injury to another person or death can result in a fine of $500 or $1,000 and suspension of the driving priveleges for a period of 90 days or 180 days in lieu of or in addition to the fine.

Any offense that causes inintentional serious injury or death to another person can be charged as a felony offense. An offense such as reckless driving that causes a dealth is charged as a Class B Felony. Felonies carry higher penalties and sactions, such as fines of up to $10,000, mandatory restitution of $150,000, mandatory imprisonment of 25 years and mandatory suspension of driving priveleges for six years for a class B Felony conviction.

“We hope that these increased penalties and sanctions will make drivers thingk twice before foolishly choosing to pass a stopped school bus,”?noted Kim Snook, Director of the Iowa DOT’s Office of Driver Services. “More than thinking about their own penalty, however, we hope they will remember and recongize that passing a stopped school bus threatens the life of a child. The few seconds gained is not worth risking a child’s life.”