|SPRINGFIELD, IL - Now that students are back in school, the Illinois State Police (ISP) is reminding motorists of the laws and penalties for passing school buses and speeding through school zones. "These laws were put in place to protect our most valuable resource, our students," said ISP Director Sam W. Nolen. "It is important for drivers to know that officers strictly enforce these laws, and the penalties are appropriately stiff."|
Nolen said it is unlawful for a driver to pass a school bus that has stopped to load or unload children when its stop signal arm is extended. The driver is required to stop his or her vehicle before passing the school bus from either direction. An exception is when the driver is on a highway with four or more lanes with at least two lanes of traffic in either direction. If the driver is going in the opposite direction of the bus, they do not have to stop.
Illinois law provides that the driving privileges of a person convicted of passing a stopped school bus will be suspended for three months for the first offense and one year for the second, if the second conviction occurs within five years. Additionally, the fine for a first conviction is $150 and $500 for a second or subsequent conviction.
Nolen also said school bus drivers may call police with the license plate number of vehicles that illegally pass them. In those instances, state statute provides that the owner is responsible for identifying the operator of the vehicle if they were not the driver when the violation occurred. Otherwise, the owner faces the charges.
Nolen also reminded drivers that the speed limit in school zones when students are present is 20 mph. Drivers arrested for speeding in a school zone must appear in court and face a minimum fine of $150.