Cameron Mayhew Act:Bill boosts failure-to-stop for a school bus penalties
Legislation that is awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s consideration will stiffen the non-criminal penalties for drivers who fail to stop for a school bus and cause serious bodily injury or death.
On Monday, HB 1239 – also known as the Cameron Mayhew Act – passed the Florida Legislature with a 28-6 vote from the Senate. On April 28, the House passed the bill with its own 118-0 vote.
Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, and Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, sponsored the bill.
As of Thursday, Eagle did not believe that Scott had signed the legislation yet.
“Sometimes it take a few days to get him, to get to his office,” he said.
Eagle explained that the prosecution in each case decides if the case is criminal or civil.
“Not everyone is charged with a crime,” he said.
In the cases where the state decides not to press criminal charges, HB 1239 raises the penalties from a six-month driver’s license suspension and a $1,000 fine to a one-year suspension and a $1,500 fine.
“We increased those non-criminal penalties,” Eagle said.
The legislation also requires the driver to attend a victim’s impact panel, complete 120 hours of community service at a hospital or trauma center, and accumulate six points on their license.
The idea for HB 1239 stemmed from a fatal accident last year in Fort Myers.
At 5:47 a.m. June 1, Cameron Michael Mayhew, 16, of Fort Myers, was struck by a vehicle while trying to cross Pine Ridge Road, south of Kelly Road, to get on his school bus. The driver, Zachery H. Treinen, 23, of Cape Coral, failed to stop for the stopped bus, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.
Cameron was transported to a hospital with critical injuries; he died the next day.
Treinen was initially cited for failing to stop for a stopped school bus. The FHP later amended his citation to involving serious bodily injury or death, which carries a mandatory court date.
On Nov. 8, Treinen pleaded no contest to failing to stop for a stopped school bus.
With adjudication withheld, his license was suspended for six months and Treinen was ordered to attend eight hours of aggressive driving traffic school and pay a $1,000 fine, plus court costs.
He had no prior traffic or criminal record, according to the Lee County Clerk of Courts.
Eagle pointed out that the penalties in Treinen’s case were “extremely minimal.”
He began looking into the issue after hearing from Cameron’s parents.
“Obviously, I felt it was incumbent upon me to do something,” Eagle said.
In researching the issue, he and his staff discovered that an average of 10,000 people every day in Florida run a school bus stop sign, whether out of lack of education or simple breaking the law.
“That’s an issue that’s out there that we need to work on,” he said.
Eagle noted that HB 1239 is a step in the right direction.
“I’d love to see more happen down the road,” he said.
“We need to dwindle that down. We need to chip away at that number,” Eagle added.
Sherry Stevens, mother of Cameron, said the following in a prepared statement:
“I cannot express the pain and heartache we endure every day since my precious son, Cameron Mayhew, was taken from us. My son lost his life because someone was running late for work and the time clock was more important than the warning lights on the school bus.”
“This tragic event not only affected our family, it has affected our entire community. We need stricter penalties – stricter penalties will save lives, and those lives belong to our children.”
Scott has 15 days to sign the bill, allow it to become law without his signature or veto it.