A bill that would change Wyoming law to allow registered owners of vehicles to be ticketed for passing stopped school buses based on car license plate numbers is now headed to Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon's desk.

Senate File 80, originally sponsored by Sen. Affie Ellis [R-Laramie County], won final approval in the Wyoming House of Representatives by a 36-20 margin, with four members absent.

Current Wyoming law allows people to be ticketed for passing parked school buses which have their red lights flashing if photos of the cars taken from the bus show an image of the driver which is considered clear enough to clearly identify the person.

But if SF 80 becomes law, a ticket could be issued to the registered owner of the vehicle based on images of the car's license plate number. The car owner could fight the ticket by proving he or she hadn't been driving the car at the time. Violators would be liable for a $195 fine, and the violation would not count towards possible suspension of their driver's license.

Opponents of the bill, such as Rep. Scott Clem [R-Campbell County]. compared the proposal to asset forfeiture laws because it "makes my property guilty of committing a crime" and forces defendants to prove their innocence rather than the burden of proving guilt being on the prosecution.

But supporters said a better analogy is any typical traffic ticket, which people can fight in court if they choose. Supporters also argued that the passing of stopped school buses has reached epic proportions in Wyoming and that tougher laws are needed to avoid the potential death or injury of school children around the state.

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