New Reckless Driving Law Closes School Bus Loophole

by J.D. Garrett on February 12, 2012

A new law on the books in Virginia closes a legal loophole that had complicated reckless driving cases in the state for decades. The updated law requires drivers to stop when approaching a school bus that has stopped to let students off. Regardless of the direction of approach, a driver who fails to stop is guilty of reckless driving.

In the law’s previous form, which had been on the books since the 1970’s, the word “at” was omitted, causing it to read as follows: “A person is guilty of reckless driving who fails to stop, when approaching from any direction, any school bus which is stopped…”

The seemingly minor omission made the meaning of the law ambiguous and created obstacles for criminal prosecutors as well as for plaintiffs and their personal injury attorneys.

Reckless Driving Around School Buses

Because of the ambiguity in the previous version of the law, prosecutors sometimes had difficulty obtaining reckless driving convictions against drivers who failed to stop for stopped school buses. Now that the law has been formally clarified, the loophole is no longer available as a defense to the charge of reckless driving.

A driver who is convicted of reckless driving for failing to stop for a school bus may be fined up to $2,500 and can even face up to one year in prison. In addition, the conviction can result in four demerit points on the driver’s license, and will be noted on driver’s record for a period of 11 years.

The law in its previous form also created an obstacle for plaintiffs who sought to recover damages in motor vehicle accident cases. With the new clarification to the law, injured parties will have an easier time proving that a driver was reckless, and therefore will be more likely to recover damages for injuries that occur when drivers fail to stop for school buses.

If you have been injured in a reckless driving accident — whether or not it involves a school bus — do not hesitate to contact a Virginia Beach personal injury attorney. The potential criminal prosecution will not allow you to recover damages for your injuries; you must also bring a personal injury claim.

Previous post:

Next post: