To illegally pass a school bus in Virginia can leads to an expensive civil fine (Va. Code 46.2-844) or worse, a criminal reckless driving charge (Va. Code 46.2-859). A conviction for reckless driving will result in a permanent criminal record. It can be punished by up to 12 months in jail, a $2500 fine, and a six month loss of license. For many people, especially professional drivers, a conviction could cause them to be fired from their job.
In addition to the legal ramifications of passing a bus, it is dangerous. When children are unloading from a school bus, they may be easy to miss. Some children may walk in the wrong direction across or behind the bus and you may not see them until it is too late. When a school bus is serving its purpose and stopped, you must usually stop your vehicle.
According to the Code of Virginia, Drivers must stop for a school bus regardless of direction. A bus may park on private roads, highways and school driveways to drop and pick off students, mentally and physically handicapped individuals and the elderly. When driving in any direction, approaching a school bus, drivers must stop. They must remain parked until all persons are clear of the street and the bus returns to motion. The school buses that this refers to are those with warning devices and have yellow paint with the words school bus on the front and rear. Some buses are even equipped with video cameras that record any vehicle that passes the bus while passengers are loading/unloading.
There are instances, however, where you can legally pass a school bus. You may pass a school bus if  it stops on the opposite side of a divided highway (i.e., there is barrier or raised median strip physically separating traffic heading in opposite directions),  on an access road,  on a driveway or on a separated roadway. Also, if you approach a school bus dropping off or loading up kids on property adjacent to the school, you may pass  if a crossing guard or uniformed police officer advises you to pass.
Being charged with illegally passing a school bus can be nightmare. Do not lose sleep, stress out, or miss work coming to court to fight the ticket yourself. You could be fined, lose your license, your job, or even go to jail. If you are charged with a traffic crime, call our office immediately at 540-627-5131 or send us an email. We will give you at no risk, a free consultation.
The information provided on school bus passing is for educational purposes only. It is not legal advice.