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It can cost you up to $300 if you pass a stopped school bus in Wisconsin

Posted at 2:34 PM, Sep 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-03 16:24:08-04

You may have to pay a hefty fine if you pass a stopped school bus in Wisconsin.

Fines vary by city, but it can cost you between $30 and $300, according to state law.

Wisconsin statute 346.48 says drivers must stop at least 20 feet behind any school bus that has stopped and is flashing red warning lights. This applies to vehicles behind the school bus and in lanes heading in the same direction.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says all lanes of traffic must stop for the school bus, except in opposing lanes if the highway is divided with a center median.

The law states the driver "shall remain stopped until the bus resumes motion or the operator extinguishes the flashing red warning lights."

The DOT says a driver can be cited if their vehicle passes a school bus illegally. If an officer doesn't witness the violation, the driver can still be cited if the school bus driver reports it to law enforcement within 24 hours. The bus driver will need to let officers know:

a) The time and the approximate location at which the violation occurred.
b) The license number and color of the vehicle involved in the violation.
c) Identification of the vehicle as an automobile, motor truck, motor bus, motorcycle or other type of vehicle.

The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) found in Wisconsin, 460 illegal passes were observed by participating bus drivers on the day surveyed (05/08/19). Nearly 2 out of every 3 illegal passes (65%) happened in the evening time.

According to the Wisconsin DOT, "the stop arm on the bus is an added communication to other drivers, but the lack of an extended stop arm is not reason to pass a bus whose red lights are flashing."