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Can You Pass A School Bus In Michigan?

December 6, 2023 by Steven M. Gursten

Can you pass a school bus in Michigan?

Generally, you can pass a school bus in Michigan if it is in motion or its red lights are not flashing. However, if it has stopped and its red lights are flashing, then you must stop and wait until it resumes motion and turns off its lights. Unlawfully driving around one will result in fines, court costs and possibly even jail.

When can’t you pass a school bus in Michigan?

Michigan law states that you cannot pass or overtake “a school bus that has stopped and is displaying 2 alternately flashing red lights located at the same level.” (MCL 257.682(1)) When this happens, you must come to “a full stop not less than 20 feet” from it. (MCL 257.682(1))

You cannot proceed and you must remain stopped until it “resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer actuated.” (MCL 257.682(1))

When can you pass a school bus in Michigan?

Michigan law does not specifically state when you can legally drive around one. But it does appear to suggest that a driver can lawfully pass a school bus if: (1) it is in motion; or (2) one is stopped and is not “displaying 2 alternately flashing red lights located at the same level.” (MCL 257.682(1))

Can you drive around a one when it is flashing red lights?

If it is stopped with flashing red lights, then you cannot drive around it.

Can you drive around one when its flashing yellow lights?

Michigan law does not specifically prohibit drivers from passing a school bus with flashing yellow lights, but the Michigan State Police does advise drivers to prepare to stop when they see one with overhead lights flashing yellow (they will be near the roof, on both sides of the words “School Bus”).

Can you driver around one in a passing lane?

The law does not address this specific situation. However, if one has stopped and its red lights are flashing then you must stop at least 20 feet from it.

Can you pass a school bus on a dotted line in Michigan?

Michigan law does not specifically allow or prohibit a driver from passing a school bus on a dotted line. The law is clear, however, that you cannot drive around one if it is stopped and its red lights are flashing.

What happens if you unlawfully drive around one when its red lights are flashing?

If you drive around one that has stopped and has its red lights flashing, then you will be responsible for a “civil infraction.” (MCL 257.682(1))

Is there a fine for unlawfully driving around one?

The fine for unlawfully passing a school bus in Michigan that is stopped with its red lights flashing is between $100 and $500. (MCL 257.907(2)(l) and (4)) If you unlawfully drive around one in a “school zone” (30 minutes before and after school) or in a “school bus zone,” the fine is doubled. (MCL 257.601b(1))

A “school bus zone” is defined as “the area lying within 20 feet of a school bus that has stopped and is displaying 2 alternately flashing red lights at the same level . . .” (MCL 257.601b(5)(c))

A “school zone” is generally defined as “school property on which a school building is located and the adjacent property,” “extend[ing] not more than 1,000 feet from the school property line in any direction.” (MCL 257.601b(5)(d); 257.627a(1)(c))

Will I get points on my license for illegally driving around one with its red lights flashing?

The Michigan Vehicle Code does not specifically address whether points are assigned to a driver’s license for illegally driving around one in violation of MCL 257.682(1)). But the law does impose 4 points for “an at-fault collision with another vehicle [or] person” and 3 points for “improper passing.” (MCL 257.320a(1)(l) and (r))

Will I get community service for illegally driving around a school bus?

Before October 11, 2021, if you illegally pass a school bus, then in addition to a fine and court costs, a judge can order you to perform “not more than 100 hours of community service at a school.” (MCL 257.682(4). As of October 11, 2021, community service will no longer be a penalty for illegally driving around one. (MCL 257.682 as amended by Public Act 50 of 2021)

Can you go to jail for passing a school bus in Michigan?

In Michigan, if you unlawfully pass a school bus in a school bus zone and you cause an “at-fault collision” that injures or kills someone, you could go to jail for up to a year or for up to 15 years, respectively. (MCL 257.601b(2) and (3); 257.320a(1)(l))

A “school bus zone” is defined as “the area lying within 20 feet of a school bus that has stopped and is displaying 2 alternately flashing red lights at the same level . . .” (MCL 257.601b(5)(c))

Can police use footage from a stop-arm camera against drivers who illegally drive around one?

Yes. Starting October 11, 2021, school buses can be equipped with a “stop-arm camera system,” which consists of at least 2 cameras that will videotape or photograph vehicles that unlawfully drive around one that is stopped with its red lights flashing. (MCL 257.682(4); 257.1820(1) and (3))

The law requires that the cameras be able to “capture images” of the vehicle, its rear license plate and a “distance of not less than 200 feet in front of the school bus.” The cameras must also “[r]ecord[] the date, time, and location on an image produced by the system.” (MCL 257.682(4) 257.1820(3) [Note: MCL 257.682(4) was amended by Public Act 50 of 2021; MCL 257.1820 was added by Public Act 52 of 2021]

The law also provides that a “photograph or video recorded by a stop-arm camera system is admissible” in court against a driver who is alleged to have unlawfully driven around one. (MCL 257.682(4))

Have you been injured in a crash with a school bus? Call the Michigan Auto Law attorneys now for a free consultation

If you were injured in an automobile accident with a school bus or while passing one, call Michigan Auto Law now (800) 968-1001 for a free consultation with one of our experienced bus accident lawyers. There is no cost or obligation. You can also visit our contact page or use the chat feature on our website.

Michigan Auto Law is Michigan’s largest and most successful law firm that specializes exclusively in helping people who have been injured in auto accidents.

Our secret? Our attorneys deliberately handle fewer cases than other personal injury law firms.  This allows us to focus more time and attention on our cases.

Unlike other law firms, our attorneys are never too busy to promptly return phone calls and answer questions. 

We have more than 2,000 5-Star reviews that reflect this care and attention to detail.

More importantly, this client-focused approach leads to better and faster settlements for our clients. Michigan Auto Law has recovered more million-dollar settlements and trial verdicts for motor vehicle accidents than any other lawyer or law firm in Michigan. We’ve also recovered the highest ever reported truck accident and car accident settlement in the state.

Call now so we can start making a real difference for you.

Can You Pass A School Bus In Michigan?

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