Report: Iowa Judges Not Assessing Higher Bus Fines

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state report says Iowa's courts are not levying increased penalties set by a new state law that targets drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus.

Kadyn's Law was passed by the Iowa Legislature in March and signed into law by Gov. Terry Branstad. It's named for Kadyn Halverson, a 7-year-old girl who was hit by a pickup and killed in 2011 while walking to her bus. The driver of the truck, Aaron Gunderson, of Northwood, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

State law requires motorists to come to a complete stop when approaching a school bus that is parked with its lights flashing. Kadyn's Law requires a minimum $250 fine for offenders, but can go up to $675 and 30 days in jail for additional violations. The fine had previously been $200.

But a study by Iowa State University shows 65 percent of those convicted of school bus violations were assessed a lower fee, the Des Moines Register reported Saturday. Some of the fines levied were as low as $60, the report said.

The study was conducted between Aug. 15 and Oct. 31, and looked at a total of 162 convictions.

"A big part of Kadyn's Law was the fact that the fines were supposed to rise significantly," said Max Christensen, director of school transportation for the Iowa Department of Education. "If those procedures are not being followed, where's the deterrent?"

It's possible that not all Iowa judges and magistrates were aware of the date of the law change, Iowa Judicial Branch spokesman Steve Davis said.

A notice was sent to Iowa judges on Nov. 15 reminding them of the change, Davis said.
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