Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Conflicting law hits school bus tickets

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BATON ROUGE - Conflicting state and local laws may have busted a camera program that busts drivers who speed through a school bus stop where a bus has activated its flashing lights, warning students are around.

The cameras are mounted on the sides of school buses In East Baton Rouge.  A driver who fails to stop when the stop sign and warning lights are activated is caught and mailed a $300 ticket. 

But, the WBRZ News 2 Investigative Unit uncovered many offenders are getting their tickets reduced and dismissed because of problems with the law.

"If we had somebody reviewing the stuff, we wouldn't be wasting people's time and wasting taxpayer dollars with shows like this," Brandon Lewis said.

Cameras caught Lewis running the stop arm of a school bus, but his ticket, along with several others got dismissed Thursday in court.

"The law is right there in Louisiana. 38:20 C it clearly states that you don't have to stop on the separate highway," Lewis said.

Louisiana law states on a five-lane-highway with a center turning lane where cars can turn left in both directions, vehicles traveling in the opposite direction do not have to stop for a bus picking up or dropping off students.

On the other hand, if the center lane only allows drivers to turn left in only one direction, all drivers must stop.

Problem is FXS, the company in charge of running the camera system, bases its tickets on an East Baton Rouge city parish ordinance that only allows drivers to pass if there is a raised median in between the driver and the stopped bus.

But even though state law trumps it, drivers are still getting cited when they should not.

"When there's a violation that occurs on a state highway what applies? The local city parish ordinance or the state law that pertains a state highways? That seems an easy one answer," critic of the program Mike Meyers said.

FXS wants state law to fall in line with its way of enforcement. The company is lobbying lawmakers to pass a bill that matches the EBR ordinance.

"It was a law that the state changed. There was already a city ordinance in place and we've been enforcing the city ordinance and that's why there's pending legislation to try and clear up any confusion with the laws," FXS spokesman Casey Ponder said.



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