Downey Bill to Ensure Safety of Students Transported on School Buses Becomes Law

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(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Lagana, Reed Gusciora, Raj Mukherji, Jamel Holley, Daniel R. Benson, Joe Danielsen, Benjie Wimberly and Joann Downey to prevent individuals who have had their driving privileges suspended or revoked from operating a school bus was signed into law this week. 

“Individuals who’ve had their driving privileges suspended or revoked have no business being on the road, never mind transporting children to school,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Losing your driving privileges is no small infraction. This will keep irresponsible individuals from transporting school children, and ensure the safety of students who depend on school bus transportation.”

The new law (A-597) establishes that a person who knowingly operates a school bus transporting one or more students while his or her driving privileges have been suspended or revoked is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. A crime of the fourth degree is ordinarily punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months or a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

The law also establishes that a person knowingly operating a school bus while his or her driving privileges have been suspended or revoked who is involved in an accident resulting in bodily injury to another person is guilty of a crime of the third degree. Such a crime ordinarily is punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years or a fine of up to $15,000, or both.

Under the law, the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission is required to revoke for life the passenger and school bus endorsements on the commercial driver’s license of a person convicted of either offense. Lastly, the law specifies that a person convicted of either offense is permanently disqualified from employment as a school bus driver.

“Our most valuable, most precious resource in New Jersey is our children,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “A bus driver who has a record of irresponsible driving cannot be put in charge of getting them to and from school.”

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