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Legislation toughens penalties for passing stopped school buses, advances in legislature

(Charleston) Legislators are toughening up penalties for motorists who pass a stopped school bus. It’s not the first time penalties have gotten tougher, but this legislation takes things a step further with equipment to gather evidence.

Videos prove that drivers pass stopped school buses every day. Senate Bill 238 increases penalties for drivers who pass those stopped school buses. Senator Stephen Baldwin (D – Greenbrier) is the lead sponsor of the bill. He describes the penalties saying, “It would increase a financial penalty- a fine. But also you can have your license taken away for doing it multiple times.” The bill’s teeth come in the form of new equipment. Using federal funds, front and rear cameras will be placed on all new school buses to give law enforcement evidence for prosecution.

The idea for the bill came from bus drivers that approached Senator Baldwin with the issue. The Senator said, “I talked to as many drivers as I could and they all said it happens each and every day. And they’re just worried that there’s gonna be a serious injury or death. And we’re fortunate that we haven’t had that for a little while.” Senator Baldwin is referring to Haven Brooke McCarthy, a 6-year-old girl that was struck and killed getting off a bus in Lincoln county in 2007. The bill is named Haven’s law after the little girl.

The legislation has so far united lawmakers from both sides. Senator Sue Cline (R – Wyoming) sponsors the bill. She said, “Our children’s safety is the most important thing we do.”

Haven’s Law builds on legislation from 2016 that didn’t go far enough. Senator Cline said, “We still had people that were calling us saying that it was still happening.”

Senate Bill 238 passed in the Senate. It will now move to the House of Delegates for consideration. The bill will start out with the House Judiciary Committee.

Haley Brown

Multimedia Journalist

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