Buying, Selling & Using Vans: Federal Law

Selling: It is a violation of Federal law for any person knowingly to sell or lease a new bus for use as a school bus if the bus does not meet all school bus Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs). The law provides substantial civil penalties for selling a new non-school bus for use as a school bus.

Buying: When the Public Law 109-59 [Safe, Accountable, Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEALU)] was signed on August 10, 2005, it amended that NHTSA regulations concerning the purchase and use of vans by schools and school systems. Previously, federal law only prohibited motor vehicle dealers and others from selling or leasing a new 15-passenger van to schools for the transportation of students to and from school or school-related activities. Under the new federal law, NHTSA regulations now prohibit a school or school system from purchasing or leasing a new 15-passenger van “if it will be used significantly by or on behalf of the school or school system to transport preprimary, primary, or secondary school students to and from school or an event related to school, unless the 15-passenger van complies with the motor vehicle standards prescribed for school buses and multifunction school activity buses.” 

Civil Penalties: The new federal law imposes civil penalties for violations. A single violation carries a civil penalty of up to $10,000, and the civil penalty for a related series of violations is up to $15,000,000