, Port Arthur, Texas

November 12, 2012

Ask a Cop: Handicapped parking and slow driving

Ofc. Rickey Antoine
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Jackie from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, I love reading your column on Mondays. Is it illegal to use a handicap parking placard that wasn't issued to you?

Answer: Thank you, Jackie. ABSOLUTELY! The practice of using a disabled parking placard that's not issued to you is 100 percent illegal. Jackie, it saddens me to the core of my heart to even entertain the idea we have become so lazy and self-centered in this land of the free, that we abuse something that’s designed to help accommodate someone who has physical limitations with a closer parking spot.

Did you know criminals are out there attempting to duplicate disabled placards to sell, so the lazy and self-centered can illegally park with the fake placard?  The Department has made several changes and now inserted safeguards over the last few years, making the criminal’s placard duplication mission impossible. I'm not a doctor to judge who should have a parking placard and who shouldn't. You can encounter someone with a disabled parking placard hanging on the rear view mirror and they get out of the vehicle walking better than you. But keep in mind you don't know their medical condition.

I have seen people get into verbal confrontations over a disabled parking zone, and one of the parties didn't have a disabled parking placard. I'm stunned to hear people want to look at those parking in disabled zones as they are lucky. Are You Kidding Me? Lucky, no lucky will be giving the disable their limbs back, their energy, walking power, lung function ability, their youth and vigor back. Then you can call them lucky.

So the next time you think about parking in a disabled parking zone, remember the eyes of Port Arthur and its surrounding communities are on you, and PAPD Traffic Enforcement Unit is always close by, ready to respond to the CRIME.  Also, to the placard owner, it is illegal to lend or allow someone to use your disabled parking placard. Disabled Placard owners can be

cited, fined and possibly have your parking placard revoked for misusing it. Finally, do not hang the placard on your rear view mirror while operating your motor vehicle.

Carol from Nederland asks: Officer Antoine, thank you for all you do for our safety. Here's a question for you. I hear you say how tough you are on speeders, but how about people who drive too slowly. Is this illegal as well?

Answer: Great question, Carol, and yes, we are very tough on speeders in Port Arthur because it’s been proven that SPEED KILLS! Now there is a violation of the Transportation Code called Impeding Traffic, or going too slow. The Transportation Code states an operator may not drive so slowly as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with the law. Carol, to be honest with you the only time I would have a problem with someone driving slowly is when there is a minimum speed limit posted. This would normally be on our highways where the speed limit is 70 mph or 75 mph, and the minimum speed limit would be 45 mph. Any speed below 45 mph in a 70 mph speed zone is unsafe. Therefore, if you are not capable of driving 45 mph on the highway, Please STAY OFF THE HIGHWAY before causing a crash. In the city limits,

especially Southeast Texas, traveling where the speed limit is 45mph or less, I don't consider it unsafe to travel 25 mph in the right lane.

Marcus from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, I need your help on an issue my co-worker and I are at odds about. Is it illegal if approaching a traffic signal that is red, for me to cut across the parking lot to turn right even if I make a complete stop before exiting the private drive?

Answer: Good question, Marcus, and I can see you are knowledgeable about making a complete stop before exiting a private drive. This is a practice that needs to stop. So many drivers are impatient when it comes to waiting their turn to safely enter an intersection. Now if you turn right or left across private property at an intersection to avoid a traffic signal you are committing a CRIME. It’s illegal to cut across private property in efforts to beat a red light, even if you come to a complete stop before entering the roadway.

Kathi from Fannett asks: Why don't dump trucks have to have rear license plates?  If I get in a hit and run with a dump truck, I won't be able to identify the vehicle involved. If I'm required by state law to have rear plates displayed, I think dump trucks should too.  Enjoy your column and read it every week.

Answer: Thank you, Kathi, this is a very good question. Dump Trucks can register their vehicle three different ways: Regular plates, like a pick-up truck (2 plates issued), apportioned plates (1 plate issued), or a combination plate (1 plate issued). When they register their vehicle with apportioned or combination plates, the department only issues them one plate. They register their vehicles that way because many times there will be a second vehicle attached, being pulled by the first vehicle with a totally different license plate. Be aware the license plate number of apportioned or combination plate you find on the front of a dump truck or any commercial vehicle, will not be the same number of the rear vehicle being towed.

Remember to email me your questions to, or call 409-984-8541 to leave a voicemail or mail Ofc. Rickey Antoine, 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas 77640. If you happen to see me in public you can "Ask A Cop".