BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – North Carolina House Bill 428 was named "the Hasani N. Wesley Students' School Bus Safety Act" after a boy who was hit and killed by a driver who illegally passed a school bus. The bill makes the penalties for illegally driving by a stopped school bus stricter than they have been.
According to the bill, anyone found guilty of illegally driving past a stopped school bus will receive a misdemeanor charge and minimum fine of $500. Anyone who commits the same crime, and additionally hits a person, will receive a class I felony and a minimum fine of $1,250.
If the driver hits and kills a person, they will receive a class H felony and a minimum fine of $2,500. The bill also mandates that the driver's license will be revoked for a set number of years depending on the crime.
Bobby Taylor, the Brunswick County School District's Transportation Director, said he likes the stricter penalties, but is not sure they will work. He urges drivers to be safe around school buses.
"If you pass it while those children are getting on and off the bus and they have to cross the street, the life of that child is in jeopardy," said Taylor.
Patricia Underwood, the Leland Middle School Principal, said she thinks the enforcement of this bill.
"When it starts affecting your pocketbook, I do think it makes a difference and I do think that more people with enforced fines will pay attention," said Underwood.
Alex Reyes, a student at Leland Middle School, said he has seen drivers illegally pass the bus he rides.
"Can't they just wait a little bit longer until the bus moves?" questioned Reyes about drivers who illegally cruise past stopped busses. "They're so impatient they have to go around the bus."
The new legislation that brings harsher penalties goes into affect December 1, 2013.
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