The Beaufort Police Department wants to remind motorists to come to a full stop when following or approaching a school bus displaying its stop arm and flashing red lights. 

The penalty for passing a school bus with its stop arm out includes a fine and could possibly result in the loss of driving privileges.

In Beaufort, all motorists following behind or approaching a school bus in the opposite lane displaying its mechanical stop signal or flashing red lights for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers must stop. There are no roads in Beaufort with a median or center turn lane to make the motorist in the approaching lane exempt from stopping.

 Capt. Joseph Washington said the Beaufort Police Department has a no-tolerance policy on passing buses with their stop arm engaged.

 “Our biggest concern is keeping children and drivers safe,” Capt. Washington continued, adding that this is a friendly reminder to drivers to stop when they see a stopped school bus with it's stop arm in use. 

In May 2013, House Bill 428 was passed unanimously, adding a $500 fine to the misdemeanor charge for passing a stopped school bus displaying its stop signal and its red lights flashing. If a driver hits anyone while passing a stopped school bus, the driver would face a $2,500 fine as well as a felony charge, with the fee increasing to $5,000 if the driver causes a fatality. The driver would also get five points on their license.

The Division of Motor Vehicles could also revoke the driving privileges of any driver for one year if they are convicted of two misdemeanors within a three-year period, under this legislation. A third misdemeanor could result in a permanent loss.

 Drivers convicted of a felony would lose their licenses for up to three years and will be permanently revoked if convicted of a second felony violation under this section.