Martin County Sheriff’s Office says new school bus camera law may be hard to enforce

CBS 12 | By Amber RaubMon | August 7, 2023

STUART, Fla. (CBS12) — Florida law now allows school districts to put cameras on school buses to catch drivers who pass the bus illegally while it’s stopped to pick up or drop off students.

The cameras would be mounted on the outside of the school bus and would collect photos and video of any car that illegally passes the school bus while its lights are on and its arm is extended.

Through the law, any driver who commits this infraction would face a $225 fine.

The Martin County School District (MCSD) Superintendent Michael Maine says he has witnessed first-hand people blowing past school buses as they’re picking up and dropping off kids.

“You wouldn’t believe the number of people who are in a rush in the morning to get to work and they bypass the stop sign and it creates a really big safety risk for us,” said Supt. Maine.

The MCSD says it is working on adding these cameras outside as an extra layer of protection for kids that ride the bus.

“We have ordered them to be installed on all of our new buses. So we have an order of 10 new school buses that we’ve ordered and all of those new 10 school buses will come with the updated camera on the stop sign indicators,” said Supt. Maine.

The St. Lucie, Okeechobee, and Indian River County school districts are all in various stages of research or approval for adding this safety equipment, and the Palm Beach County School District says they’ll be seeing how the program works in other districts before deciding on how to proceed.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder tells CBS12 News, while this law is well-intended it would be hard for the department to enforce.

“What would happen is a car would go past the camera, it would snap a picture of the license plate. Then we’d get a printout of that, and from there we would have to build a whole case, figuring out who the registered owner is to ticket, stand ready to go to court with that ticket,” said Sheriff Snyder.

Snyder says just because the car is registered to someone doesn’t mean they were the one driving at the time of the infraction.

“To be fair to the registered owner, we’d have to do some background work. I know the bill lays out in pretty good detail that the registered owner is responsible, but for us, we have to be a little more diligent than that,” said Snyder.

Snyder says since the images from these cameras might not clearly show the driver, it would be hard to prove in court who the guilty party is.

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