Lately the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office has received several school bus violation complaints. I want to explain the law so everyone understands when you can legally pass a school bus.
If you see flashing red or amber lights on a school bus, don’t pass it. It makes no difference if the red stop sign is out or not. You cannot drive past or drive around a school bus when the flashing red or amber lights are on. The only time this is not true would be if you were traveling the opposite direction as the bus on a 4-lane highway. If you are traveling the same direction as the bus on a 4-lane, you still need to stop.
You must remain stopped until the bus retracts the red stop sign, turns off (ALL) flashing warning lights, and starts to move. Then, and only then, can you start to move or pass — and you still need to make sure it is safe to pass.
This is not limited to state, county or city roads. The same law applies to private roads and drives. If you see a bus in one of our residential developments, you need to stop when the red or amber warning light are on. You need to follow the same procedure as if you were on a public roadway.
Penalties for a school bus violation are.
* First Offense: Not less than $250 fine but not more than $675. The court may order imprisonments not to exceed 30 days in lieu of, or in addition to, the fine.
Iowa DOT will suspend your license for 30 days. I would assume after your license has been suspended, you would be required to have high-risk insurance. But I’m not positive about that.
* Second offense: At least $315 but not more than $1,875 fine. The court may also order imprisonment up to one year.
The DOT will suspend your license for 90 days.
(321.372 also provides that once a report is made to law enforcement, we have seven days to initiate an investigation. If probable cause exists that a violation of 321.372 has occurred, the peace officer “shall” issue a citation to the registered owner of the vehicle, or the person the owner states was driving at the time. SHALL — not could, should, or might. State code says shall. The buses have video cameras on them just for this reason.
Passing a school bus is a very serious violation. Besides the heavy penalty for violating 321.372, no one wants to hurt a child. I can’t imagine the guilt a person would feel having injured or killed a child.
So please stop for the school bus. Nobody is in that big of a hurry.
Cedar County Sheriff