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Fines could increase for school bus passing violations

School bus-related traffic fines are steep, but a proposed piece of legislation could make them even steeper if Maryland state lawmakers decide to pass it. If the law gets passed, it would increase the current automatic fine for passing a school bus up to $250 from its current level of $125.

The bill, which doubles the school bus passing fine, would apply to the owners of any vehicle that passes a bus that has stopped and has its stop signal indicator revealed. However, the owners of short-term leased vehicles and rental vehicles will be exempt from the law. Furthermore, it doesn't matter how many times a vehicle passes a school bus like this, the car owner will be fined for each instance.

According to the Maryland Department of Education, 4,326 school bus passing violations happened in just one day in Spring 2016. This was significantly higher than the number of daily violations recorded in 2015, which was 2,795.

Lawmakers want to know why vehicle drivers are violating the law in this way. School bus monitoring cameras have helped reduce instances after violations reached a high point of 7,011 daily violations recorded in 2011. However, only four counties in Maryland are currently using the bus safety cameras, which are kind of like red light cameras and speed cameras that detect vehicles and their license plate numbers when they illegally pass a bus.

Although the fine for passing a school bus may seem relatively small, it could bring stiff consequences in terms of insurance, points on a drivers' license and other issues relating to one's driving history. As such, Maryland residents may want to fight a citation relating to a school bus passing violation. With the help of a traffic ticket defense lawyer, it may be possible to defend oneself against a school bus passing violation in court.

Source: McClatchy DC Bureau, "Bills would hike school bus-camera fine, include rental cars," Cara Newcomer, Feb. 17, 2017

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