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School bus stop sign springs out when already passing bus. Did I deserve a ticket?

League City, TX |

This morning I was driving on a 7 lane street (3 lane each direction and one turning lane) when a school bus started to slow down. It was on the right-most lane, and I was in the left-most. (Going in the same direction.) The light were flashing yellow and I was not far behind, so I decided I could pass it given that I was going the speed limit. (45). As I was midway through passing the bus, the sign sprung out (as I passed the bus driver's seat). I thought I was okay, because there was no way to stop in such a short distance. So kept going. A few hundred feet down the road I was pulled over and cited for passing a loading school bus. I've heard this is a huge fine, and can have huge consequences. I would like to avoid them. I just didn't think I could safely stop in such a short distance.

Attorney Answers 2

  1. Whether you commited a traffic violation or not will be determined in court, not on Avvo and not by the use of speculation.
    Consult with a traffic attorney in League City, Texas for a more accurate preparation of your case.

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  2. I try to avoid getting dragged into things like this, but really, come on--there is nothing at all wrong with this question, and I'm not sure what point the other attorney was trying to make. I'm sure you have the sense to realize we can't magically grant you a "not guilty" and just wanted to see if this sounded like a reasonable defense.

    I certainly think you may have a valid point with this. Oddly enough, the same thing happened to me I think Friday (thankfully without the ticket, but I was definitely glad there wasn't a cop there!). The way the statute reads, you're actually responsible for stopping as soon as you see the flashing lights, not just when that thing pops out, but, that's only if you're approaching a "stopped" school bus (as opposed to a "stopping" school bus). Realistically, it's probably going to be subject to interpretation by whoever's doing the judging in a lot of circumstances, and I think the prosecutor would likely realize it might not be a slam dunk case to try. I believe that all of our local police departments now have video recordings of every traffic stop and the immediately preceding events (it goes back and records for 30 seconds before they hit their overheads to pull you over. So it seems like subpoenaing the video might be a reasonable step to take if this doesn't go away easily (and if you're pretty sure the bus wasn't fully stopped when you started to pass it). But I'd say there's a pretty good chance that something could at least be worked out to where you won't end up with a conviction, as long as it was a grey area kind of thing and you don't have a bad driving record or criminal history.

    I will at least agree with the other lawyer that your odds of a successful outcome are a lot better with an attorney, in part just because the prosecutors and judges don't have nearly enough time to try everything, and if you have an attorney, they realize that's what it's going to come down to if they don't make a decent offer. I practice in Galveston, so I'd be happy to talk to you about your case. If you'd like to contact me, my email address is listed in my profile (just click on my name). Good luck with this.