In Florida, a traffic ticket for failing to come to a stop for a school is a civil traffic infraction and not a criminal charge. The traffic law states that any driver "shall, upon approaching any school bus which displays a stop signal, bring such vehicle to a full stop while the bus is stopped, and the vehicle shall not pass the school bus until the signal has been withdrawn." Failing to stop for a school bus is always a moving violation. Then it gets more confusing.
There is an exception and enhancements. When driving on a divided highway with an unpaved space of at least 5 feet, or a raised median, or a physical barrier, a driver travelling in the opposite direction of a school bus is not required to stop. If the driver is accused of passing the school bus on the side that children enter and exit while the school bus displays a stop signal, then the citation requires a mandatory hearing. The hearing is mandatory, but a driver with a lawyer does not have to attend court.
Upon a second or subsequent offense within a period of 5 years, the department of highway safety and motor vehicles is required to suspend the driver license of the person for not less than 90 days and not more than 6 months. Upon a second or subsequent offense of passing or failing to stop for a school bus on the side that children enter and exit that is within a period of 5 years, the department is required to suspend the driver license of the person for not less than 180 days and not more than 1 year. The 5 years is from the conviction date. Finally, if there was a crash that resulted in serious bodily injury to or death of another, then the Court is required to impose an additional civil penalty of $1,500 and the department is required to suspend the driver license of the person for not less than 1 year. Furthermore, taking an approved traffic school is required by law even if the Court withholds points. A lawyer can request the citation to be amended, but only at the hearing.
No driver accused only of a civil traffic ticket is required to appear in court, even if a hearing is required. A lawyer can save time and/or school elections and may be able to defend the case or obtain a good result regardless of the facts. Sometimes, the charge can be amended. Of course, every case is different. However, if a hearing is required, then the choices are to (1) go alone, (2) go with a lawyer or (3) let the lawyer attend on behalf of the driver. Hiring a lawyer familiar with the Court, the rules of procedure and evidence is better than being alone. Please call, click or fill out the contact form to hire a traffic lawyer.