More than half who fight $300 school bus stop-arm tickets are winning in Austin, TX

Each person met with administrative judge Kevin Cole, who posts up in a room at Austin ISD’s maintenance facility in east Austin on the last full week of each month. Cole is a private attorney who was hired back in 2016 to hear every single school bus stop arm ticket appeal. He sees about 40 to 50 people each day and hears cases Monday through Thursday.

The hearings are public, but the lack of chairs suggests it doesn’t really draw a crowd. Cole sat at a long table in front of two computer screens so he and the driver can view video of the violation together.

They talked through the incident, and in many cases, Cole pulled up information from a separate GPS system.

“I just want to make sure that the bus driver did what he or she was trained to do in terms of providing you notice,” Cole told a driver.

Cole checked to see if the bus driver turned on the yellow flashing lights at the right time, prior to engaging the stop sign. He also looks closely to see when the stop arm was fully extended and stopped moving.

“If they’ve begun to pass within one second, we don’t hold them liable,” Cole said.