, Port Arthur, Texas

Port Arthur

November 6, 2013

Ask A Cop: Parking in fire lanes; Jello shots

PORT ARTHUR — James from Port Arthur last week question revisited: Officer Antoine, my understanding is that a policeman can park anywhere he needs to while on police business. My concern is when they are on duty, but not handling police business or duties. There has been three occasions I've observed an officer parking in a “No Parking/Fire Lane” close to the store’s entrance. They went in and bought personal items, which I know this because I stood back and watched them. My question is, are they not breaking the law since they did not go there on police business? Shouldn't they park where everyone else parks that are there shopping as they did? One of the police vehicles was dark blue/black with about six radars, the other two were blue and white.


Answer: This was a good question as I received many responses on the question and the answer that was given. Special Thanks Terry. Now James and weekly readers "YES", police officers ARE allowed to park in Fire Zones as long as they are in a Government owned police vehicle. Even if they are off duty wearing shorts and in the business shopping for personal goods. I still stand by my answer that it helps as a deterrent to preventing crime. These vehicles are exempt from the fire lane parking law according to the Texas Transportation Code 684.011 which states:  684.011. Prohibition Against Unattended Vehicles in Certain Areas (a) The owner or operator of a vehicle may not leave unattended on a parking facility a vehicle that: (1) is in or obstructs a vehicular traffic aisle, entry, or exit of the parking facility; (2) prevents a vehicle from exiting a parking space in the facility;

 (3) is in or obstructs a fire lane marked according to Subsection (c);  or (4) does not display the special license plates issued under Section 502.253 or the disabled parking placard issued under Chapter 681 for a vehicle transporting a disabled person and is in a parking space that is designated for the exclusive use of a vehicle transporting a disabled person. (b) Subsection (a) does not apply to an emergency vehicle that is owned by, or the operation of which is authorized by a governmental entity. 

Edward from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine there has been a lot of discussion lately about U-turns, legal versus illegal. Can you make it clear what is a legal and a illegal U-turn?

Answer: Thank you for this question Edward. I can see how this may be somewhat confusing to readers of The News. We have had several articles where there have been mentions of U-turns being legal or illegal. Edward, U-turns are allowed/legal in Texas as long as there's not a sign prohibiting a U-turn. I hear motorists say all the time "well I didn't want to make a U-turn because a U-turn is illegal. That's totally wrong, Edward! This is the only time U-turns are not allowed without a sign prohibiting such U-Turns being posted in Texas. The transportation code say in section 545.102. Turning on curve or crest of grade.  An operator may not turn the vehicle to move in the opposite direction when approaching a curve or the crest of a grade if the vehicle is not visible to the operator of another vehicle approaching from either direction within 500 feet. Basically speaking you cannot make a U-Turn in Texas when you are near a curve in the road or you can't see another vehicle at least 500ft (about a city 1 1/2 block away).

Jeffery from Beaumont writes: Officer Antoine kudos to you for this column, what a great way for the Port Arthur Police Department to educate its motorist about Texas driving laws. I've been reading your articles weekly now all year, and you have surely taught me a thing or two about my driving and knowledge of the law that honestly I wasn't aware of. I enjoyed reading the article of the vodka soaked gummy bears last week and I honestly thought it was just funny until I was faced with a similar situation Thursday for a Halloween party. At the Halloween party there were ghoulish/Halloween type of jello shots that were passed out, and my friend/designated driver of the vehicle I was riding in consumed several jello shots throughout the course of the party. As time to leave approached I remembered your article that you can become intoxicated and refused to let him drive, of course he didn't like it but he went along with it. Believe me when I tell you he fell asleep in the passenger seat before reaching my house. Had I not read your column I would have let him drive because he wasn't drinking and Lord only knows what would have happened to us. Thank you again.

Answer: Thanks Jeffery for being a regular reader of the "Ask A Cop" article in The News. Just in case there's someone who doesn't know what a jello shot is, it’s actually a popular party treat of Jello mixture combined with alcohol and placed in the freezer until it forms into the jello product. Believe it or not because of your action you have become a part of our lifesaving mission. I have no clue how many motorists are being educated and applying the new knowledge and making our streets of Port Arthur and Texas a safer means of travel because of this article. I can tell you I see it in our lowered number of traffic crashes and fatalities. This article wouldn't be what it is if citizens wouldn't write me, e-mail me, or ask me questions in public when they see me. Readers, understand and know that you are appreciated by me, and I depend on your questions to keep this article moving and fresh every Tuesday!

Join Officer Antoine for "Ask A Cop" live, on KSAP 96.9 FM, "The Breeze" radio station, every Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. You can also tune in via internet at Feel free to call and ask your question live to Officer Antoine at (409)982-0247.

 Remember to email your questions to, or call 409-984-8541 and leave a voice mail question, or mail them to: Ofc. Rickey Antoine 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640.

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