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School bus fine in Frederick Co. passes with unanimous vote

Tuesday - 2/7/2012, 10:35pm  ET

Ari Ashe, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- Frederick County lawmakers have unanimously approved a plan to increase the potential fine for drivers illegally passing school buses to $250.

The 4-0 vote came after a short debate at the Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday evening.

"Maryland has seen a serious problem and we recognized our officers cannot follow every single school bus on the road," says Commission President Blaine Young.

The law would allow citations to be issued from a school bus camera, although only about a dozen currently are active.

Young hopes to increase that number to 40 or 50, out of 433 total buses.

The law doesn't actually require every offender to get a $250 ticket, the precise amount will be set by the court system.

"Obviously, I think it should be set at the maximum because aggressive driving is become a big problem," Young says.

"I don't know what goes through someone's mind passing a school bus. I cannot imagine many judges giving leniency when the bus has all the hazard lights on and the stop sign out."

One a single day in 2011, a statewide survey found 7,200 school bus violations.

Under Maryland law, if a police officer catches a driver passing a school bus, it's three points on your license and a ticket over $500.

If caught on a camera, there would be no points accompanying the $250 ticket.

Young said he would like to see the money go to hiring more school crossing guards.

The Montgomery County Council plans to vote on a similar proposal, introduced by Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, in the coming weeks.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)