, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

October 1, 2012

ASK A COP: Knowledge of the law, stuck at the light

PORT ARTHUR — Derrick for Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, I received a ticket from you a couple of years ago. I must admit, you were not mean or rude at all. What I don't understand is that I didn't know what the speed limit was where you stopped me, because I was new to the area. I was apologetic several times and told you I was sorry. If I didn't mean to do it, how can you still write the ticket?

Answer: Good question, Derrick. Getting straight to the point, I still wrote the ticket because you committed the crime of speeding. Many people don't understand that the Texas transportation code is not dependent on culpable mental states. Culpable mental states are for murder, stealing, assault and others crimes where we must prove you either intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence committed a crime. If someone hit you in the eye, we must find out the culpable mental state and determine if they intended to hit you in your eye or if it was done accidentally. If it was done accidentally, it's nothing the police can do for you but direct you to a civil court where you could sue for pain and suffering, or medical expenses. The transportation code is different. We don't have to determine whether you knew you were speeding or not, all we must prove is that you did what the officer is accusing you of. Remember you are in control of the vehicle, and it's your responsibility to make yourself aware of all traffic signs — especially if you are in a new area.

Millie from Port Neches asks: Officer Antoine, I was traveling south on Twin City to 39th street. I pulled over for the left turning lane, and the light would not turn green. I was first in line. I waited after the light cycled four times without my turning light changing to green. There were several cars behind me blowing their horns, so I waited until the coast was very clear and turned left on the red light. What was the right thing to do?

Answer: Great question, Millie. I'm sorry you got put between what seemed to be a rock and a hard place. One thing I've noticed is that Texas drivers aren't very patient. Well, Millie, I must inform you that you committed a CRIME by running a red light. We have all been at a traffic signal and it changes for everybody but us. The transportation code doesn't give drivers the right to disregard a traffic signal, even one that's not changing green. Ask yourself, if you noticed a light that has been green for a long time without turning red, will you stop at the green light because it should have turned red by now? No, you wouldn't. The ONLY PERSON who can give you permission to go through a red light is a POLICE OFFICER — no one else! Millie, you should have waited at the light or put your signal on, and when it was clear/safe moved into the inside lane next lane and went straight when the light was green. I know it's nerve racking, but don't allow anyone to intimidate you to do something you are not certain about or that may be illegal. They had to see the light was malfunctioning. Remember, Millie, when they get tired of blowing, they could always easily go around.

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