Ask a cop: When can an officer search a motorist?

Published 8:44 am Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Donna from Beaumont asks: I want to thank you, Officer Antoine, for such a wonderful and informative column you present to us on a weekly basis. Also, I want to extend a hearty wish to you and your family of a happy, safe new year. Officer Antoine, my sister is a huge advocate of the “Black Lives Matter” movement that’s going around in this country. She and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to our law enforcement protection in our community. I personally believe that ALL lives matter, black, blue, brown, white, yellow, etc. We all have red blood pumping through our hearts. Sometimes I shake my head and wonder how could we come from the same parents, one of us have to be adopted (LOL smiling)! We were on the subject of the authority of searches by police officers when lawfully stopped, as well as making you get out of your vehicle. Can or when can a police officer search someone they have stopped, and can or when can they make someone exit their vehicle?

Answer: Very good question, Donna! Thanks, Donna! I concur with you, ALL lives do matter! That’s why I am hard pressed for traffic compliance because the lack of compliance kills and injures more people in the city, county, state and nation, than crimes committed by dangerous, violent felons. Donna, law enforcement officers have a very dangerous and unpredictable job, and they suit up knowing very well there are those in the community they protect that literally hate them because of the uniform they wear and what they stand for. It takes a special kind of person to help someone who moments earlier was trying to harm you! Police officers all across this country know very well that they cannot stop a vehicle until they have PROBABLE CAUSE. Which means a law enforcement officer believes you have committed an offense, the officer can ask you to get out of your vehicle, but that doesn’t automatically mean the officer can search you, unless they deem it necessary for their/your safety. Donna, the officer may ask for consent/permission to search you or your vehicle, and if you consent to the search, you have the right to stop the search at any time. Keep in mind that if you have nothing to hide, your compliance with the officer on scene will expedite matters. I would be foolish to say that all law enforcement officers treat everyone kindly. Heck I’m even known locally as a very mean, rude police officer. I do know the biggest formula for failure is trying to please everyone. One person may say, “Good job, officer,” while another may say, “They are picking on people!” Donna, encourage your sister to comply and if she believes any law enforcement officer has violated her Constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, she can contact the officer’s department and file a complaint. These complaints are taken seriously and not just thrown in the trash. I am aware that all law enforcement departments locally have video and audio that will prove you right or exonerate the officer in your complaint. Police officers should be viewed as to HELP not HURT!

James from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, while on Citizens’ Patrol in Griffing Park, I noticed in the 4300 Block of Sunken Court, people are parking on the esplanade in the afternoon when Tyrrell School dismisses the students (3-4 p.m.). If I’m not mistaken, this type of parking is illegal right? I know you all are busy but if you get a chance, please you or someone from the Traffic Enforcement Unit, swing by and take a look. Thanks!

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Answer: Good question, James! Yes, it is illegal to park on any esplanade in the city of Port Arthur, no matter the duration of the park. James, it sounds like parents are picking up students from Tyrrell, but this action is illegal and will not be tolerated by the Port Arthur Police Department! You are welcome to walk upon an esplanade, it’s not there to park or drive your vehicle upon. Thanks for your help, James. It’s citizens like you who notice violations and notify Law Enforcement to make our community a better and safer place to live.

Don from Port Neches asks: I enjoy your column every week and find it informative and entertaining. I ride a bicycle in parts of Port Arthur, Port Neches, and Nederland and find it frustrating at the way drivers ignore stop signs and red lights. A lot of the time drivers will stop with their front bumper on the edge of the road or highway. Would you remind drivers that the wide white line at an intersection is the correct place to stop for a light or stop sign, and if there is no line, the correct place to come to a stop? Keep up the good work! Happy New Year!

Answer: Good question, Don! This is a subject that has been discussed before and I believe that most learn from repetition, so I will say it again. The white line at any intersection should not be crossed unless the vehicle is in motion for a green/yellow light or safely stopped and yielded the right of way at a stop sign. You are not allowed to stop across the white line, or to place any part of your vehicle over the line while stopped at an intersection. If there is no white stop line or cross walk, you must stop your vehicle before ANY part of the car is in the intersection. Failure to do so could result in a citation, and if found guilty in the Municipal Court of Port Arthur, you could receive a fine of $204.


Join Officer Antoine for Ask A Cop live, on KSAP 96.9 FM The Breeze radio station, every Tuesday for an hour at 1 p.m. You can also tune in via internet at Feel free to 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. If you happen to see me in public you can Ask A Cop!