Virginia Beach Reckless Driving Attorney: § 46.2-859. Passing a stopped school bus; prima facie evidence.

A person is guilty of reckless driving who fails to stop, when approaching from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons, and to remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road or school driveway and the bus is put in motion. The driver of a vehicle, however, need not stop when approaching a school bus if the school bus is stopped on the other roadway of a divided highway, on an access road, or on a driveway when the other roadway, access road, or driveway is separated from the roadway on which he is driving by a physical barrier or an unpaved area. The driver of a vehicle also need not stop when approaching a school bus which is loading or discharging passengers from or onto property immediately adjacent to a school if the driver is directed by a law-enforcement officer or other duly authorized uniformed school crossing guard to pass the school bus. This section shall apply to school buses which are equipped with warning devices prescribed in § 46.2-1090 and are painted yellow with the words “School Bus” in black letters at least eight inches high on the front and rear thereof. Only school buses which are painted yellow and equipped with the required lettering and warning devices shall be identified as school buses.

The testimony of the school bus driver, the supervisor of school buses or a law-enforcement officer that the vehicle was yellow, conspicuously marked as a school bus, and equipped with warning devices as prescribed in § 46.2-1090 is prima facie evidence that the vehicle is a school bus.

THIS SECTION APPLIES ONLY WHERE SCHOOL BUS IS STOPPED “FOR THE PURPOSE OF TAKING ON OR DISCHARGING SCHOOL CHILDREN.” Thus it was not applicable where a school bus stopped because of a road barricade, even though a school child was discharged from the bus while it was so stopped. County School Bd. V. Thomas, 201 Va. 608, 112 S.E.2d 877 (1960).

THE BURDEN IS ON THE COMMONWEALTH TO SHOW THAT THE SCHOOL BUS WAS PROPERLY MARKED OR IDENTIFIED in a prosecution under this section. Until that fact is shown, defendant is not required to explain or offer evidence of innocence. Moore v. Commonwealth, 202 Va. 667, 119 S.E.2d 324 (1961) decided prior to the 1964 amendment which made changes in this section.