2/13/2006Missouri: School Bus to Issue $1000 Photo Tickets
School bus drivers will concentrate on issuing $1000 photo tickets to passing motorists in Liberty, Missouri.
School buses in Liberty, Missouri have have turned into automated ticketing machines. Recently installed, digital "stop arm" cameras allow bus drivers to issue photographic citations to any vehicle that passes while the bus is flashing its red lights. The ticketing capability is also made possible by an obscure legislative provision that went into effect in August.
According to "Jessica's Law," if a bus driver claims a vehicle passed him, the registered owner of that vehicle will be presumed guilty of a class A misdemeanor. The offense carries maximum penalties including a $1000 fine, ninety day license suspension, one-year imprisonment and two driver's license demerit points for the first offense.
The system is likely to issue a substantial number of tickets as the Liberty Public School District employs 64 buses that make 312,500 stops a year over the course of 583,000 miles. Although the law allows Missouri bus drivers to issue citations for an offense carrying jail time, these drivers are not trained in law enforcement. Prospective drivers must only demonstrate their ability to drive and pass a written test. Test questions include, "Under what conditions must you evacuate the bus?" or "After unloading at school, why should you walk through the bus?"
Twenty-five school districts in Iowa have experimented with a similar stop arm camera system. In Arkansas, a new law that went into effect last year requires school bus drivers to identify motorists who pass or the bus drivers would face 30 days in prison and a $100 fine.
Missouri Revised Statutes
1. The driver of a vehicle upon a highway upon meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus which has stopped on the highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children and whose driver has in the manner prescribed by law given the signal to stop, shall stop the vehicle before reaching such school bus and shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion, or until signaled by its driver to proceed.
2. Every bus used for the transportation of school children shall bear upon the front and rear thereon a plainly visible sign containing the words "school bus" in letters not less than eight inches in height. Each bus shall have lettered on the rear in plain and distinct type the following: "State Law: Stop while bus is loading and unloading". Each school bus subject to the provisions of sections 304.050 to 304.070 shall be equipped with a mechanical and electrical signaling device approved by the state board of education, which will display a signal plainly visible from the front and rear and indicating intention to stop.
3. Every school bus operated to transport students in the public school system which has a gross vehicle weight rating of more than ten thousand pounds, which has the engine mounted entirely in front of the windshield and the entrance door behind the front wheels, and which is used for the transportation of school children shall be equipped no later than August 1, 1998, with a crossing control arm. The crossing control arm, when activated, shall extend a minimum of five feet six inches from the face of the front bumper. The crossing control arm shall be attached on the right side of the front bumper and shall be activated by the same controls which activate the mechanical and electrical signaling devices described in subsection 2 of this section. This subsection may be cited as "Jessica's Law" in commemoration of Jessica Leicht and all other Missouri schoolchildren who have been injured or killed during the operation of a school bus.
4. Except as otherwise provided in this section, the driver of a school bus in the process of loading or unloading students upon a street or highway shall activate the mechanical and electrical signaling devices, in the manner prescribed by the state board of education, to communicate to drivers of other vehicles that students are loading or unloading. A public school district shall have the authority pursuant to this section to adopt a policy which provides that the driver of a school bus in the process of loading or unloading students upon a divided highway of four or more lanes may pull off of the main roadway and load or unload students without activating the mechanical and electrical signaling devices in a manner which gives the signal for other drivers to stop and may use the amber signaling devices to alert motorists that the school bus is slowing to a stop; provided that the passengers are not required to cross any traffic lanes and also provided that the emergency flashing signal lights are activated in a manner which indicates that drivers should proceed with caution, and in such case, the driver of a vehicle may proceed past the school bus with due caution. No driver of a school bus shall take on or discharge passengers at any location upon a highway consisting of four or more lanes of traffic, whether or not divided by a median or barrier, in such manner as to require the passengers to cross more than two lanes of traffic; nor shall any passengers be taken on or discharged while the vehicle is upon the road or highway proper unless the vehicle so stopped is plainly visible for at least five hundred feet in each direction to drivers of other vehicles in the case of a highway with no shoulder and a speed limit greater than sixty miles per hour and at least three hundred feet in each direction to drivers of other vehicles upon other highways, and on all highways, only for such time as is actually necessary to take on and discharge passengers.
5. The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with separate roadways need not stop upon meeting or overtaking a school bus which is on a different roadway, or which is proceeding in the opposite direction on a highway containing four or more lanes of traffic, or which is stopped in a loading zone constituting a part of, or adjacent to, a limited or controlled access highway at a point where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.
6. The driver of any school bus driving upon the highways of this state after loading or unloading school children, shall remain stopped if the bus is followed by three or more vehicles, until such vehicles have been permitted to pass the school bus, if the conditions prevailing make it safe to do so.
7. If any vehicle is witnessed by a peace officer or the driver of a school bus to have violated the provisions of this section and the identity of the operator is not otherwise apparent, it shall be a rebuttable presumption that the person in whose name such vehicle is registered committed the violation. In the event that charges are filed against multiple owners of a motor vehicle, only one of the owners may be convicted and court costs may be assessed against only one of the owners. If the vehicle which is involved in the violation is registered in the name of a rental or leasing company and the vehicle is rented or leased to another person at the time of the violation, the rental or leasing company may rebut the presumption by providing the peace officer or prosecuting authority with a copy of the rental or lease agreement in effect at the time of the violation. No prosecuting authority may bring any legal proceedings against a rental or leasing company under this section unless prior written notice of the violation has been given to that rental or leasing company by registered mail at the address appearing on the registration and the rental or leasing company has failed to provide the rental or lease agreement copy within fifteen days of receipt of such notice.
Any person who violates any of the provisions of subsections 1, 3, and 6 of section 304.050 is guilty of a class A misdemeanor. In addition, beginning July 1, 2005, the court may suspend the driver's license of any person who violates the provision of subsection 1 of section 304.050. If ordered by the court, the director shall suspend the driver's license for ninety days for a first offense of subsection 1 of section 304.050, and one hundred twenty days for a second or subsequent offense of subsection 1 of section 304.050.
Except as otherwise provided for an offense outside this code, a person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor or infraction may be sentenced to pay a fine which does not exceed:
(1) For a class A misdemeanor, one thousand dollars;
(5) For a class A misdemeanor, a term not to exceed one year;