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ASK A COP: Don’t let uninsured driver use car

Madeline from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, can you settle a debate I’m having with one of my relatives? He has a bad habit of helping others get cars to drive and knows that they are not licensed and cannot pass a driving test. The debate is if the unlicensed driver kills someone, can the owner of the vehicle be charged with manslaughter or second degree murder? My relative says that is not likely to happen. Does the law address this issue?
Answer: Good question, Madeline! This just happens to be one of my several “NO NO’s.” I’m not one who allows others to drive my vehicle if they aren’t on my insurance policy as a driver. Madeline, if the unlicensed driver operates a vehicle and because of his/her actions a fatal crash occurs, it would of course depend on the police investigators and the district attorney as to whether they would pursue criminal charges against the registered owner. On that note, I would probably side with your relative and say that it’s not likely the owner would be charged with manslaughter and second degree murder, but yes, to not allowing an unlicensed driver to operate a motor vehicle. But keep in mind, Madeline, if the police department and the district attorney refuse to pursue criminal charges against the registered owner, I’m sure civil action (law suits) can and more than likely will be pursued against both the unlicensed driver and registered vehicle owner. Madeline, I can’t begin to tell you how many people we stop on a daily basis that do not have a license to operate a vehicle. If you don’t have a driver’s license, don’t get behind the wheel. Don’t allow ANYONE to operate your vehicle without a driver’s license.
James from Groves asks: Officer Antoine, I know it’s been said, but I’ll say it again: I’m loving this column every Tuesday. My question is about drivers who get out of their car and open their doors in the lane of traffic. It stops the flow of vehicles on the road because if they keep traveling they would hit the door. Just the other day someone left their vehicle with the door wide open and still running while she went to get a package from inside of a business. Please clear this up for me, Officer Antoine. Is there a law that says we have to stop for drivers who open their door in the lane of traffic? How should I handle this action next time?
Answer: Good question, James! Yes, James, you are correct! There is a law that addresses that “a person may not open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic, unless the door may be opened in reasonable safety without interfering with the movement of other traffic,” Texas Transportation Code 545.418. James, if it is not safe to exit the vehicle you should NOT open the door until you can safely exit the vehicle. Also, she could have possibly faced the charge of leaving an unattended vehicle running if there were no other occupants inside the vehicle. Always look in you rear and sideview mirrors before opening ANY door of your vehicle.
Jean from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, my friend was arrested the other day on a Capias Warrant for not paying a speeding ticket that you wrote her. I am confused, what’s the difference between a Capias Warrant and a regular warrant? I always thought that a Capias warrant was a greater warrant than the kind you get for tickets and more like for drugs, or some really bad crime?
Answer: Good question, Jean! A Capias Pro Fine warrant is issued to individuals who failed to meet the terms set forth by the court. In order to receive a Capias Pro Fine, the defendant must either plead or be found guilty by a court and punishment is given by the court because the defendant failed to hold up their end of the arrangement. There is no bond amount for such fines in the cases of speeding citations; the whole balance must be satisfied before the defendant is released from custody. So if you are found/or plead guilty of a class C misdemeanor, keep your agreement with the court. If you don’t, police officers will be looking for you.
Join Officer Antoine for “Ask A Cop” live, on KSAP 96.9 FM, “The Breeze” radio station, every Tuesday for 1 hour from 1p-2p. Tune in and listen as Officer Antoine discusses in detail the newly released “Ask A Cop” article that printed in The News. You can also tune in via internet at www.ksapthebreeze.org. Feel free to call in and ask your question live to Officer Antoine at (409) 982-0247.
Remember to email your questions to rantoine@portarthurpd.com, 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. If you happen to see me in public you can “Ask A Cop!”