Ask a Cop: Is it legal to speed if you have an emergency?
By Officer Rickey Antoine of the Port Arthur Police Department
Mary from Nederland Asks- Officer Antoine, I can’t wait to read your article every Tuesday in the News! I have learned so much from reading this article. I have two questions, would you please write a booklet with all the questions and answers you have given in the paper? This would be great to be able to look back at them when a question comes up. Talk about a best seller! Hopefully you have all this information saved on your computer. Second question is when transporting a person to the hospital in an emergency, can anyone drive over the speed limit with their flashers on? Not breaking the speed on light kind of driving, but rather five to 10mph over the posted speed limit? Thank you!
Answer-Good question Mary! Mary, I thank you and many others for being faithful readers of Ask A Cop in The News! I have been approached on several occasions about writing a book of all the questions and answers of this column, but me being me, I just laughed it off. I have never ever imagined the angle of composing a book or booklet for the column. I now believe those that have come before you were serious about having something they can go back and review if any incident should arise. Mary, a best seller, well, all I can say is “who knows,” just maybe, but it must be composed first!
Now, let’s deal with your second question. The only vehicles allowed to travel over the posted speed limit are emergency vehicles, e.g., police units, fire engines or ambulances. This applies even in emergencies. If your vehicle is not an authorized emergency vehicle, you will be in violation of state law if you travel over the posted speed limit transporting someone to the emergency room. With that said Mary, police officers are not without understanding. I’m more than sure if a police officer stops you or anyone for speeding and observes you have someone in your vehicle who is in need of emergency medical treatment, they will be more than accommodating to get you there in a safer and efficient manner like a police escort. Mary, the flashers are hazard lamps, not emergency flashers. Motorists should not activate those lights in an event of an emergency. Motorists should only activate the hazard lamps when they are traveling well under the posted speed limit to notify approaching vehicles your car is moving slowly.
Mike from Port Arthur Asks- Officer Antoine, my wife and I are going on our third round of debate of whether or not it’s illegal to operate a vehicle with a burned out light bulb? I know many readers will say of course it is, but let me finish with the question. What if I inspected my vehicle lights before beginning to my destination and the bulb went out without me knowing it went out. Can I still be given a ticket and I didn’t even know the bulb was out? Does it make a difference if I knew the bulb was out or not to ticket a driver? Please help me prove my wife wrong (LOL). I’ll never hear the end of this if I’m wrong!
Answer- Good question Mike! I just love these husband and wife debates about the Texas Transportation Code! That encourages me to continue with this column because when we start debating the Transportation Code at home, work, gym, radio and even church, someone will be educated. It’s my belief this person will be a more conscientious and safe driver in southeast Texas and wherever they may travel. Mike, the debate between you and your wife about a bulb that is out on your vehicle is surely a violation of the Transportation Code of Texas. You ask what if I checked my car and all my bulbs were operating correctly. The Texas Transportation Code is much different than any other code in Texas. Mike, with the Texas Transportation Code, culpable mental state is not applicable, meaning we don’t have to show your intent was to speed, or that you intentionally drove a vehicle with a bulb blown out … just that you operated a vehicle in violation! Law enforcement officers hear all the time from motorists, “Officer I didn’t mean to, I didn’t know, I wasn’t aware, I wasn’t trying to,” and none of these statements release you from the liability for a violation of the Texas Transportation Code. Remember, all the officer has to prove is you did the violation, not that you intended to commit the violation! So Mike I’m not quite sure what your answer was in the debate, but if you said it wasn’t a violation, if I were you, I’d go invest in a few pair of ear plugs. Hey Mike, flowers and a nice dinner wouldn’t hurt either (smile)!
Dianna from Groves Asks- My question is what is the speed limit on Highway 69 feeder road between Jimmy Johnson Boulevard and Highway 365? Enjoy reading your column every Tuesday!
Answer- Good question Dianna! I can only imagine why you ask this question and it’s because there are no speed limit signs on the Highway 69 feeder north of Jimmy Johnson Boulevard. As much as I can tell, the speed limit is 50 mph because that is what the speed limit is on the south side of Jimmy Johnson on Highway 69 feeder. Thanks Dianna! I will get in touch with Texas Department of Transportation to install additional speed limit signs in that area for both south and north bound traffic. Dianna, it is citizens like you that step up and say something that can make a change for safer and more informed motorists in Port Arthur and neighboring communities. One person can make a change, one person can make a difference! You will never know if you don’t at least try to fix it yourself or you can take the easy way out and “Ask A Cop!” We can all take a part in making Port Arthur and safer motoring community.
Join Me, Officer Antoine for Ask A Cop live, on KSAP 96.9 FM The Breeze radio station, every Tuesday for at least 1 hour from 1 p.m. -until we are done. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org , 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 always free and comfortable to approach and “Ask A Cop!”