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Ask a cop: Tickets, wrecks add up to higher points, rates

Joan from Bridge City asks: Officer Antoine, I have learned to appreciate your column. I must admit at first I wasn’t a fan of the “Ticket Master Antoine!”

Yes, you and I have had an encounter on the side of the road more than once. I was not a happy camper and, trust me, I blamed you 100 percent for every time I was stopped and every ticket I got from you!

That was a couple years ago, and since I’ve been educated by your column that you are just doing your job, I am one that now looks in the mirror instead of shifting blame on another. Trust me, Officer Antoine.

My question is how long will the ticket points stay on my driving record?  I surely could use a break in my now higher insurance premium rates! Keep up the good work, Officer Antoine! You can be sure we won’t be meeting on side of the road again.

Answer: Good question, Joan! I thank you for becoming a safer driver and part of the solution, not the problem on the road of Southeast Texas. If I’m understanding your question correctly, the points you and anyone found guilty of a moving violation in the state of Texas will remain on and affect your driving record for three years from the date of conviction. Joan, every traffic violation has either two or three points associated with it. You receive two points of any Texas or out of state traffic conviction of a moving violation and three points for any Texas or out of state conviction involving a crash.

Once you receive six points or higher in any three-year period, your license is subject to a surcharge being added to keep your license.

Cam from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, I have a friend who thinks he knows everything about traffic law. We have been going back and forth about what you cannot take defensive driving for when you get a ticket. He said if you are issued a ticket with any speed over 100 mph you are not be able to take defensive driving. Is this true? Thanks for this column, it is very informative.

Answer: Good question, Cam!

Well, there are a few reasons that the state of Texas will NOT allow drivers to take a defensive driving course to dismiss a citation. Cam, your friend is right (maybe), with exceptions.

Firstly, I have to say there is NO magic speed number like 100 mph, that the state of Texas has set upon conviction that a driver will not be allowed to take defensive driving. There is a magic number that you can’t be above the posted speed limit, and that number is 25 mph.

Cam, if you are convicted of going 25 mph or greater over ANY speed limit, you will not be eligible to take defensive driving in Texas. The state will not allow drivers to take defensive driving if you are convicted of a violation in a construction zone when workers are present, for conviction of passing a stopped school bus, or if you have previously taken the defensive driving course in the past 12 months.

Cam, I believe there are roads in west Texas where the posted speed limit is 80 mph, so if you are convicted of going 103 mph on that road, you will still be eligible for defensive driving. The 100 mph is not the key number, remember it’s 25 mph over the posted speed limit. One can travel 55 mph in a 30 mph zone and not be eligible for defensive driving.

 

Jeffery from Port Neches asks: Officer Antoine, I really don’t understand why the state of Texas allows motorcycle drivers to NOT wear helmets, but people in vehicles MUST wear seat belts.

That’s ridiculous to me and it doesn’t make must sense. If they allow riders of motorcycles to make a decision on their life and health why can’t motor vehicle occupants be afforded the same? I can leave a car crash without being injured, but a motorcycle rider can’t say the same. It just doesn’t make sense!

 

Answer: Good question, Jeffery! First, I must say that motorcycle drivers and riders MUST wear a helmet in Texas with exceptions. If you have medical health insurance coverage, and if you have taken the motorcycle safety course, the state of Texas exempts you from wearing helmets while riding on a road.

Jeffery, the motorcycle helmet is a secondary law in Texas, that means that police officers can NOT stop an operator of a motorcycle just because they don’t have on a helmet. We must stop them for another violation like speeding and then we can investigate the helmet violation.

Jeffery, I understand your argument, but when I consider that 63 percent of all traffic fatalities are found NOT seat belted, I must agree and stand with the state of Texas, mandating safety belt usage in ALL motor vehicles. Jeffery, just think of all the precious lives that would be saved if we would just “BUCKLE UP!”

Join Officer Antoine for Ask A Cop live, on KSAP 96.9 FM The Breeze radio station, every Tuesday for an hour beginning at 1 p.m. You can also tune in via internet at www.ksapthebreeze.org. Call in and ask your question at 409-982-0247. 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!