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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.

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Attorney answers 2

Posted

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.

DISCLAIMER The answer given above by the lawyer serves for educational purposes only and provides general information and a basic understanding of the applicable law. Take notice that the answer above does not create an attorney-client relationship as this website is not intended to provide anyone a specific legal advice. Anyone using the site expressly consents that there is no attorney client privilege between any person and any attorney responding. Further take notice that the site should not be used as a crude substitute for any professional and competent legal advice by a licensed professional attorney in the applicable jurisdiction. The attorney above attempted to provide competent professional information, however, the law and its applications may change frequently and vary greatly from other U.S. jurisdictions and locales. Therefore, any information and materials provided above are general in nature, and may not apply to specific factual and legal circumstances related to one’s personal legal issues. Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer admitted to practice in your State under an attorney-client privilege to further receive a competent legal advice before making any important decisions about your particular legal issue. For further inquiries please contact: Attorney Alexander Ivakhnenko 1021 West Adams, 102, Chicago, Illinois 60607 773-562-8602 http://alexanderivakhnenko.com

Asker

Posted

Mr. Ivakhnenko, thank you for your response. I am aware that this matter will ultimately be settled in court. I am only trying to gain insight into what options I might have and what experienced attorneys might think of my situation. Also, if I do, indeed, need to get a lawyer or if I can represent myself. Could you please point out where I used speculation, however? I am assuming by my judgement on stopping distance? (correct me if I'm wrong.) Thanks again for your response.

Alexander M. Ivakhnenko

Alexander M. Ivakhnenko

Posted

Avvo is not the forum to litugate your case. Also, it is not an arena to gauge your assumptions. To complete the case with a better outcome, please seek a local traffic attorney. Pro se representation is a time tested way to get things wrecked.

Asker

Posted

I've begun looking for attorneys in my area that can be more useful than here. It appears I have misunderstood what this site is for; I thought it was for advice other than "get a lawyer." So much for expert advice.

Alexander M. Ivakhnenko

Alexander M. Ivakhnenko

Posted

You will learn the hard way.

Posted

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.

M Elizabeth Gunn

M Elizabeth Gunn

Posted

Also, the statute actually says a driver "shall stop before reaching the school bus" if the flashing lights, pop-out arm, rtc. are being used, which it sounds like might not have been possible for you to do.

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