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Slow down, pay attention because breaking the school bus law could result in a fine

Even if police officers don't catch drivers in the act, they will most likely track them down and ticket them.

BANGOR, Maine — "I mean, it's all about safety. Plain and simple," Cyr Lines school bus driver Judy Albert said. 

It sounds simple, but many drivers are not stopping when those yellow school bus lights flash and the red stop sign comes out.

In Bangor, school bus drivers report that other drivers are their number one concern.

They told NEWS CENTER Maine that some drivers simply don't stop and break the law. Drivers say it happens more often than you might think.

"It's getting worse. Drivers are more distracted now. They are texting, talking on their cell phone. They are doing anything other than watching the road, a lot of people running stop signs," Judy Wilcox, manager at Cyr Bus Lines in Bangor, said.

Even if police officers don't catch drivers in the act, they will most likely track them down and ticket them.

"The bus will radio dispatch, a description of the vehicle, the plate number, a description of the person driving that vehicle, the street and the time that it happened, and they generally provide a pretty good description of the person driving," Sergeant Wade Betters from the Bangor Police Department said.

Albert has been taking kids to Bangor schools for 22 years.

"If somebody is coming at me, they should see that, but they don't, 'Oh, I didn't see you' ... how big do you have to be? How bright do you have to be," Albert said.

Albert's responsibility is to get the students to and from school safely.

"It's all about safety, every bit of it," Albert said.

Wilcox said just in Bangor there is at least one violation a day. If a police officer sees you committing this crime, you'll be most likely be ticketed and your license could be suspended for 30 days.

"There's a procedure in place that makes it very likely that the police are still going to track you down for committing that violation," Betters said.

Many buses also have video surveillance cameras that can provide even more details and take footage of the car that passed the school bus while it loaded or unloaded students.

Betters said that it is a crime in Maine to pass a school bus with flashing yellow lights or red stop signs showing.

"So even though we are not there when it happens, we take that information and we generate a form letter and that letter goes out to the registered owner of the vehicle that was involved in the violation," he added.

Betters explained that the letter serves as a notice to the owner of the car that they need to meet with an officer at the police department, to address the accusation.

"Ultimately what we want from that is an interview or meeting with the driver who is responsible," Betters said.

If the driver does not come in, Maine law allows police departments to issue a court summons to the registered owner of the car involved in the violation, and be held liable. That would carry a minimum of $250 fine plus a 30-day license suspension.

"So if we issue the registered owner of the vehicle a ticket for passing a school bus the fine for that is around $326," Betters said.

"We are talking about the lives of children here," Wilcox said.