Ed Hooper wants to increase penalties for passing stopped school buses

Drivers could lose their license if they don't follow the rules.

Under current Florida law, drivers must stop when a school bus stops to ensure children can safely enter and exit without the danger of passing vehicles zipping by.

Sen. Ed Hooper wants to make sure there’s more reason for drivers to follow that law.

The Clearwater Republican filed a bill (SB 290) for the 2020 Session that would increase the fine for failing to stop for a school bus, from $100 to $200. The offense would also carry a potential license suspension.

Those who get caught failing to stop for a bus more than once could lose their license from six months to a year under Hooper’s bill. The state’s current law carries a potential 3-6 month license suspension.

Rules are even more strict for drivers who fail to stop for a school bus on the side where students enter and exit. Hooper’s bill would raise that fine from $200 to $400 and carry a 1-2 year license suspension for repeat offenders.

Neither existing law nor the bill applies to traffic traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus when there’s a divided highway containing at least five feet of physical separation.

A somewhat similar bill failed to gain traction during the 2019 Legislative Session earlier this year.

Under a bill (HB 849) filed by Boca Raton state Rep. Emily Slosberg, school districts would have been authorized to install cameras on buses to catch drivers who failed to stop for the bus and ticket them appropriately. Without such technology, enforcement relies on drivers being caught by law enforcement.

That bill died in its first committee; there was no Senate companion.

Land O’Lakes state Rep. Ardian Zika filed a companion bill (HB 37) to Hooper’s this year. Unlike the 2019 effort, Hooper and Zika’s bills would not carry a fiscal burden to the state or school districts.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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