Reader subpatre chimes in with an interesting update about Wednesday’s post on the Virginia traffic law making it a reckless driving offense to fail to “stop . . . . a stopped school bus.” In the initial post, I had googled the statute and had copied the version from Justia.com. Here was the first sentence I copied:
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.
Subpatre notes that this is not what the official statute says, however. If you look at the version on the Virginia government’s website, there is an important extra phrase in the sentence. I have placed the extra language in italics:
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.
It’s not entirely clear what happened: Perhaps the Justia site was wrong before and has been changed, or perhaps something strange happened when I cut and pasted. Either way, the Justia.com entry now contains the same version as the one on the government website.
Anyway, I thought I would mention the difference for two reasons. First, I think the added language is quite relevant to the statutory interpretation question. The phrase “and to remain stopped” in parallel with “failure to stop” seems to indicate that the “failure to stop” in the statute refers to the driver, not the school bus. Second, it’s a good reminder to check original sources.