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9/24/2005
Arkansas: Bus Drivers Must Send Other Motorists to Jail
New laws force Arkansas bus drivers to turn in other motorists for traffic violations carrying jail terms and stiff fines.

School bus
Under a new set of laws, drivers of more than five thousand Arkansas school buses must now help prosecutors send other motorists to jail for illegal passing -- or be imprisoned themselves. This week, bus drivers began turning in the first round of forms for the new school year listing the license plates of vehicles the driver believes had passed the school bus while stopped. Bus drivers who do not complete the form can be jailed for 30 days and fined $100.

The law presumes the owner of any car whose plate is recorded on this form is guilty of a misdemeanor which carries a 90-day jail sentence, a fine of up to $1000, 400 hours of community service and a mandatory license suspension of up to one year. The registered owner of a vehicle "is presumed to have been the driver of the vehicle at the time of the violation," according to the law. Using legal principles established by red light camera laws, the burden is on the defendant to prove his innocence.

Prosecutors currently are only writing warning letters to accused motorists.

Article Excerpt:
Arkansas Code

6-19-110. Bus drivers - Loading and discharging pupils.

(a) The driver of a school bus shall load and discharge the passengers of the bus at the extreme right side of the paved or improved portion of the road or highway and at the right curbing when such curbing is maintained on the road or highway.
(b) As used in this section:

(1) "Motor vehicle" means all vehicles, movable engines, or machines that are operated or propelled by motor vehicle fuel as hereinafter defined and which are operated and used for travel on public roads and highways; and

(2) "School bus" means any vehicle being used to convey children to and from school and which is marked in both front and rear with the words "SCHOOL BUS", in plain lettering, readable in daylight at a distance of at least two hundred feet (200') from such a vehicle.

(c) The driver of a school bus who observes an operator of a motor vehicle violating 27-51-1004 or 27-51-1005 shall:

(1) Prepare a written report of the violation on the appropriate form provided by the school district; and

(2) Within forty-eight (48) hours of the observation deliver the completed form to the superintendent of the school district or his or her designee, who shall promptly provide the report to a local prosecuting attorney.

(d) A school bus driver who fails to carry out the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.

27-51-1001. Penalty.

(a)(1)(A)(i) Any party who violates any of the provisions of this subchapter shall upon conviction be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or confined in the county jail not to exceed ninety (90) days or both fined and imprisoned.
(ii) In addition to the penalties so prescribed, the court may order community service for not more than four hundred (400) hours and shall suspend the person's driver's license for a period of not less than twenty-one (21) days nor more than one (1) year.

(B) There is hereby created a rebuttable presumption that shall arise in any criminal action under this subchapter to the effect that if it can be proven that a person is the registered owner of a vehicle that is driven in a manner which violates the provisions of this subchapter, the person is presumed to have been the driver of the vehicle at the time of the violation.

(2) If death results to any person, caused either directly or indirectly by a noncompliance or violation of any of the provisions of this subchapter, the offending party shall be punished as is provided by law.

(b) In a proceeding for a violation of this subchapter, proof that the particular vehicle described in the citation, complaint, or warrant was in violation of this subchapter, together with proof that the defendant named in the citation, complaint, or warrant was, at the time of the violation, a registered owner of the vehicle, shall constitute, in evidence, a justifiable inference that the registered owner of the vehicle was the driver of the vehicle at the time of the violation.

27-51-1004. Passing when stopped prohibited.

(a) When a school bus vehicle stops and displays its alternating red warning lights for the purpose of loading or unloading passengers, every operator of a motor vehicle or motorcycle meeting or overtaking the school bus from any direction shall bring the motor vehicle or motorcycle to a complete stop before reaching the school bus.
(b) The operator of the motor vehicle or motorcycle shall not start up or attempt to pass in any direction until the school bus vehicle has finished receiving or discharging its passengers and is in motion again.


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