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MAYVILLE – Motorists in Chautauqua County should be especially careful to avoid unlawfully passing stopped school buses today.

Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace said his office will be participating in a zero-tolerance enforcement effort, called Operation Safe Stop, which aims to educate the public about the dangers of unlawfully passing stopped school buses. The daylong operation will target violators of a state law that prohibits drivers from passing a school bus from either direction when the bus is stopped with its red lights flashing.

Gerace said sheriff’s deputies will be following and observing school buses as they travel their routes. Those caught violating the law face fines of from $250 to $400 or up to 30 days in jail, or both, for a first-time offense. Subsequent convictions within a three-year period can result in fines of up $850 or 180 days in jail, or both.