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WI defense lawyerYellow school buses were absent from Wisconsin’s roads for quite some time during the height of the pandemic. While schools were largely closed and relying on distance learning, drivers did not need to worry about sharing the road with these important vehicles. Now that schools have been reopened and school buses are back on the road, it may be a good time to review the state laws that apply when you encounter one. These laws are designed to keep both child passengers and everyone else on the road safe. Aside from being dangerous, violating a law about school bus safety could lead to serious fines or even a loss of license. If you have been issued a ticket after violating a school bus law, it is important to take it seriously - the state certainly does.

What Laws Do I Need to Follow When I See a School Bus on the Road?

School bus laws may feel very restrictive, but keep in mind that these laws are in place to protect children. Unlike adults, children cannot be expected to exercise great judgment when it comes to road safety. Younger kids can be quite unpredictable, and hard to spot around another vehicle. Wisconsin state laws other drivers must follow when they see a school bus include:

  • No passing - No one likes getting stuck behind a school bus. They make frequent stops and can slow down traffic for miles behind them. However, if you are going to pass a school bus you must do it while the bus is in motion. It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus, no matter how late you are.
  • Complete stop - All traffic must stop when a school bus flashes its red warning lights at a bus stop. This includes any traffic going the opposite direction, as some children may need to cross the road. The only exception is for vehicles going in the opposite direction when the highway is divided by a median.
  • Stay back - It is a good idea to give school buses plenty of extra space when you are behind them - when they stop at a bus stop, you must stop at least 20 feet behind them, which is very difficult to do if you were following too closely. The 20-foot rule also applies to traffic in other lanes, including those who were going in the other direction.

The points on your license and fines can be serious, particularly if you have received other tickets recently. It is also very important to obey reduced speed limits in school zones. Speeding fines can drastically increase if you are near a school while children are arriving or departing.

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WI injury lawyerHealthcare workers have had a particularly difficult time these last two years or so. As if the constant threat of COVID exposure were not enough, assaults against healthcare workers have been on the rise. Wait times in the ER have been extremely long, with some patients waiting upwards of 12 hours to be seen. Many have been unable to visit their loved ones who were hospitalized with the virus. Disinformation about “alternative” treatments has led to disputes between patients, families, and care teams. On far too many occasions, this has led to violence in hospitals and doctors' offices. A new bill, which recently passed the state assembly, would make any violence against a healthcare worker a felony criminal offense.

Was Attacking a Healthcare Worker Not Already a Felony?

A preexisting law made it a felony to batter a nurse or emergency care worker, such as Emergency Room doctors and paramedics. Nurses and emergency health care staff have typically been the most common targets of violence in health care settings. Emotions can run very high in emergency settings, sometimes even escalating to violence. In an effort to keep these critical workers safe in their workplaces, even minor violence against them can be treated as a felony battery.

What Would this New Bill Change?

The new bill would expand this protection to all healthcare workers and staff. Health care workers have never been more essential. Certified Nursing Assistants, interns, phlebotomists, and even secretarial staff are also essential in health care facilities. All staff members are needed to keep doctors’ offices and hospitals running smoothly - and patients safe. These workers also need to feel safe in their workplaces and to have violence against them taken seriously.

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WI defense lawyerThe Second Amendment protects the rights of Americans to own and use firearms - however, this right is not absolute. There are limits as to who can or cannot own or carry a gun. There are restrictions related to age, criminal history, and even mental health. Even for those who lawfully own a gun and possess a valid concealed carry license, there are still restrictions about where concealed carry is or is not permitted. It is easier than you may think to inadvertently cross onto the wrong side of the law and find yourself facing weapons charges. If you have been charged with a weapons offense, it is important to find an attorney who is experienced at protecting the Second Amendment rights of concealed carry permit holders. The consequences of a weapons offense could include the loss of your license.

What Legal Restrictions Are Placed on Concealed Carry License Holders?

First, it is important to know that there are some places where carrying a gun is illegal even if you have a permit. These places include:

  • Courts - This includes any county, state, and federal courthouses. Buildings that contain a municipal courtroom are included only if court is in session.
  • School grounds - You cannot carry a firearm on any part of a school’s campus or grounds, even if school is not in session.
  • Police stations - Unless, of course, you are a police officer, it is illegal to bring a gun into any police station, sheriff’s office, or any office housing special agents for the Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation.
  • Jails - If you are planning on visiting someone in a jail or prison, remember to leave your gun behind. This restriction applies to any portion of a building that houses a secured correctional facility.
  • Mental health facilities - This applies only to secured mental health units, such as the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center. However, outpatient counseling offices may have their own policies about whether concealed carry is permitted inside.
  • Airports - You probably would not make it this far with a firearm, but it is a crime to bring a gun into any part of an airport past a security checkpoint.

Whether concealed carry is permitted in bars or other public places where alcohol is sold and consumed on the premises - like most restaurants - depends on whether you are partaking. It is illegal to carry your gun if you are under the influence. This is probably a good thing. Alcohol and guns do not mix any better than alcohol and cars.

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WI defense lawyerAlmost any crime that ultimately causes a death falls under the umbrella of homicide. However, Wisconsin has long recognized that there are different degrees or types of unlawful killings. Some forms are considered much more serious than others and result in much harsher sentencing. Which specific homicide offense you are charged with depends on a number of factors, including the specific facts of your case, whether you were committing another crime, and whether the killing was intentional.

If you have been charged with any type of homicide, you could be looking at a very long term of imprisonment. It is critical that you trust your defense to an experienced, knowledgeable, criminal defense attorney.

Homicide Offenses in Wisconsin Explained

Wisconsin state law recognizes numerous different types and degrees of homicide offenses. They include:

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WI defense lawyerReckless driving can be taken quite seriously in Wisconsin. Those who are used to driving to and from work or school every day can easily forget how dangerous their vehicles can be when not operated with care. While more minor, less risky, traffic offenses like speeding just a little or making a “rolling stop” will typically lead to just a ticket, more serious, reckless, behaviors could get you arrested. In Wisconsin, a first conviction for reckless driving without aggravating circumstances will most likely lead to fines, but a repeat conviction is a misdemeanor that carries jail time. If you are facing a reckless driving charge, an attorney may be able to help.

What Kinds of Actions Behind the Wheel are Considered Reckless Driving?

In its most basic form, Wisconsin’s reckless driving statute simply defines reckless driving as endangering a person or property by negligently operating a vehicle. For the purposes of the reckless driving law, your driving could be deemed negligent if you knew or really should have known that what you were doing was substantially dangerous. There is no specific list of driving behaviors that meet the definition, but the following actions are generally considered to meet the definition:

  • Excessive speeding - Going just a few miles per hour over the limit in good conditions will generally not count. However, if you are going way over the speed limit or driving much too fast for the weather conditions to the point where it is likely that you would cause an accident, speeding may amount to reckless driving.
  • Street racing - Street racing creates a substantial risk of injury to participants, passengers, spectators, and anyone who happens to get too close to the “racecourse.” Because drivers who are racing really should know how unsafe this is, racing commonly results in a reckless driving charge.
  • Road rage - Road rage incidents can result in a reckless driving charge. Aggressively cutting in front of someone, trying to run another driver off the road, refusing to merge cooperatively, or purposely blocking the flow of traffic can all be considered forms of reckless driving.
  • Ignoring signs - Blowing through an intersection without stopping despite seeing a stop sign or red light can be considered reckless, even if you leaned on your horn to warn others what you are about to do. Brake failure is just about the only excuse for this.

The types of driving behaviors that can lead to a reckless driving charge are not limited to those listed above. The statute is intentionally left vague enough to encompass a wide range of actions that create substantial danger. As these cases are largely evaluated on a case-by-case basis, an attorney may be able to argue that what you did was not genuinely reckless.

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