I had to go to court recently and it was quite interesting, here’s how it happened:
I drive a school bus, one of the smaller ones, and while I was stopped to let a kid off, with all the lights flashing red and the “Stop” arm extended and flashing red, a driver pulled out from behind me and passed my bus on the left. Luckily, the student wasn’t crossing the street in front of my bus, to the left, or she would have been hit by that careless driver.
This reckless incident happens quite often, but it was the first time I was able to get the license plate number of the offender. I called the local police station and was instructed to write up an incident report and bring it to the station, which I did that very afternoon. A couple of weeks later I got a phone call (while I was at the Philly Flower Show with my wife) from the local sheriff informing me that I had been summoned to court; that driver had decided to plead not guilty.
My court date has come and gone, the judge found the driver guilty, issued a fine and added 3 points onto the driving record of the offender (click here to read more about PA’s point system). The judge was exceptionally lenient in this instance, the statute reads:
Vehicle Code 3345(a): Failure to stop for school bus with flashing red lights. . . . 60-day suspension. . . . . . . .and. . . 5 points added.
My role in the entire proceeding was minimal. I was called to the stand, answered a few questions, and returned to my seat. One of the more interesting aspects of this procedure was the fact that the careless driver had an attorney, an attorney that appeared to me to be about as competent in his field as a race horse with three legs! The judge even scolded him once for “rolling his eyes” at the judge. I had to restrain myself from outwardly voicing a sigh in disgust at the lawyer’s attempt to justify why the driver didn’t stop – “your honor, the driver isn’t obligated to stop on her way home from work and help a homeless person.” I was in disbelief at such a comparison as that!
Do you think justice was served in this case? I think the driver received what amounted to be a hard slap on the wrist. She should have gotten the 60 day suspension and the full 5 points added to her driving record. I can only hope that she thinks twice the next time she sees a stopped school bus with flashing red lights; such carelessness is inexcusable.