Senate Bill 2, which gives harsher penalties for drivers who illegally pass school buses in Indiana, moves to the full Senate for further consideration.
The legislation passed unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday specifically would increase the penalty to a Class C misdemeanor from a Class A infraction when motorists are convicted of passing school bus stop arms deployed while students load and unload.
The bill was introduced after three Indiana siblings were hit and killed while crossing the street to board their school bus in October.
Motorists who fail to stop when a school bus’ stop arm is extended could have their driver’s license suspended for 90 days and up to one year for a repeat offense.
The charge would also increase to a Level 6 felony from a Class A misdemeanor when a motorist passes a school bus when the stop arm is extended and causes injury. The offense would elevate to a Level 5 Felony if the actions result in death.
The bill also adds a fine of up to $20,000 in the event of an injury or death.
In addition, the bill specifies that school districts must minimize bus stops that require children to cross highways in high-speed areas, and it authorizes school districts to install stop-arm cameras. School districts or individuals would also have the ability to petition for reduced speed limits in select areas to ensure maximum safety to students.
Sen. Randall Head and Sen. Erin Houchin authored the bill and are joined by nine other legislators co-sponsors.
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