The start of a new school is just around the corner and motorists are being reminded to be on the lookout for students - whether they be walking to school or just to the bus stop.

The New York State Department of Transportation is reminding motorists when they are required to stop for a stopped school bus.

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It is a common misconception that if you are on the opposite side of a stopped bus with red flashing lights on a two, four, or six lane highway that you are not required to stop. However, you are. And if you pass, you can get a ticket.

State law says it is illegal for drivers to pass a school bus while the school bus is stopped for the purpose of dropping off or picking up passengers and the red lights on the school bus are flashing, regardless of the direction of approach, according to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles. And, you are asked to stop a full 20 feet away from the bus, when you do stop, officials say.

These graphics released on social media by NYS DOT illustrates that even when traveling in the opposite direction on a six lane highway, drivers of any style vehicle must stop, per state law.

via NYS DOT on Facebook
via NYS DOT on Facebook
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And, you are even required to stop whether there is a divide separating the roadway:

via New York State Department of Motor Vehicles
via New York State Department of Motor Vehicles
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What if I pass?

The offense of passing a school bus is taken very seriously in New York. If you are convicted of such, here is a breakdown of the consequences, according to the state DMV:

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  • First conviction - fine of $250-$400 and/or up to 30 days in jail

  • Second conviction within 3 years - fine of $600-$750 and/or up to 180 days in jail

  • Third conviction (or more) within 3 years - fine of $750-$1000 and/or up to 180 days in jail

More than 2.3 million children are transported to and from school via more than 50,000 buses each school year, according to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.

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