Jail time, heavy fines for passing school buses with stop sign out

Sean Franklin # State

Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler says he's received many complaints from drivers and parents about people ignoring the law.

Law enforcement officials want drivers to keep safety in mind when they're near school buses.

Remember: If a school bus stop arm is out, you must stop behind the bus.

If not, you can face a fine, or possibly jail time.

Law enforcement says it happens far too often, and it can put kids in danger


"The children of this community are important to us,"

Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen said.

"Our children are our most precious resource, and it's up to law enforcement and prosecutors to protect them."

Allen says cars that pass a school bus with its stop arm out have been a problem in Knox County.

Law enforcement wanted to make sure drivers know if you're coming down a two-way street -- cars in both directions must stop for the bus.

Also, it it's a divided highway with a left turn lane in the center -- both directions of traffic must also stop for the bus.

However, if there's a physical median in the middle of the road -- one with grass or a concrete divider-- only traffic on the side with the bus needs to stop. Vehicles heading in the opposite direction should still use caution.

Also keep in mind these bus traffic laws are specifically for Tennessee and can vary slightly from state to state.


Allen says the punishments can vary, but you don't want to face any of them.

"If you pass that school bus, depending upon the particular circumstances in the case, we could charge anything like reckless driving, which is a different misdemeanor. It's a different class misdemeanor, it's actually a lower class misdemeanor, but it has jail time,"
Allen said.

Or, she says if you were to hit and kill a child, you could face vehicular homicide.

Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler says it's something deputies will watch closely.

"Some of our county roads back here that we patrol, we're going to be watching those and we're going to be vigilant about that,"
Spangler said.

Spangler says be aware when buses come along your road.

If you need to, leave earlier on those days.

You might get caught behind a bus for awhile, but following the law is always the priority.