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Officer Antoine: Texting while driving is dangerous

Ken from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, thanks for all you do to inform our community via newspaper and radio to keep us safe on the roads. I have a niece whose condition is her cellphone. She often sleeps with her cell phone in her hand and she’s admitted to texting while driving. I must admit it upsets me because I am constantly finding drivers like my niece texting while driving on the roads, which I believe is a very irresponsible and dangerous act to partake in while behind the wheel of any motor vehicle. I’m aware that in Texas, it’s now illegal to text while driving. What exactly is the fine for texting while driving, and can someone be arrested for texting while driving?

Answer: Good question, Ken! You are so correct to state the danger involved with texting while driving on the roads of Texas, or any road in this matter. Ken, texting while driving is the most dangerous act to partake in while driving other than sleeping while driving. If that didn’t shake you, the fine involving texting while driving is between $25 to $99, although penalties could be as much as $200 for being convicted prior for texting while driving. Ken, it gets even steeper if you cause injury or death because of texting while driving. The fine can range up to $4000 and up to a one-year jail sentence. If that’s not enough to get all of us to put the phone down, numbers don’t lie. It’s been reported that in 2015, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Texting while driving is illegal and deadly. Stay alive, don’t text and drive! P.S. This goes for checking social media accounts, looking at pictures and opening different apps that would cause a distraction while driving with a cellphone in your hand.

Laura from Beaumont asks: Officer Antoine, I need to ask a question about tags on vehicles. I have a friend that bought a car from a small car dealership and she’s had her paper tags on her vehicle since October. I’ve purchased a couple of vehicles in my life and it’s never taken this long to get my plates. She said every time she approaches the dealer about her plates, they renew the paper tags and tell her they’re waiting on the plates to come in. Officer Antoine, to me it seems like something shady is going on. How long does a buyer tag last and can it continually be renewed?

Answer: Good question, Laura! The temporary registration tags are just that, TEMPORARY! I agree with you that something doesn’t quite smell right about your friend’s buyer tag situation. Dealers are required by law to submit application for registration within 20 working days for vehicles sold, and if the dealer is the finance institution, they have a total of 45 calendar days to apply for registration. Laura, if someone has his or her tag lost or stolen, then and only then can the tag be reissued, but it must be from the original date of issue. Buyers tags are only valid for 60 calendar days, and you can be stopped by any law enforcement officer and given a citation for operating a motor vehicle with expired tags. If your tags on your vehicle are expired, that means your vehicle is not registered to be on the roads of Texas.

Steve from Port Neches asks: Officer Antoine, I enjoy reading your column weekly! I have a niece from Oklahoma that’s living with us temporarily. She is short in stature, and well under 5 feet. So when she drives, she has to put her seatbelt under her arm so the belt won’t be across her face. I always encourage her to wear her seatbelt, but just the other day I was discussing the seatbelt usage to a friend and he said you told them in a class that wearing the seatbelt underneath the arm is illegal. Is this true?

Answer: Good Question Steve! Thank your friend for his intervention because he is correct about your niece incorrectly wearing her seatbelt. I love using the phrase, “If you don’t wear the seatbelt right, you don’t have it on at all!” Steve, the state of Texas doesn’t allow anyone to alter the correct usage of a safety belt, because when they test the safety belt for its maximum protection for drivers and passengers, the belts are worn correctly. So the state of Texas cannot and will not condone the improper wearing of safety belts. Steve, let your niece know she could be stopped and cited for not having on a seatbelt, even if she wears it under her arm! Seatbelts save lives buckle up every time!

Join Officer Antoine for Ask A Cop Live on KSAP 96.9 FM, “The Breeze” radio station, every Tuesday for one hour from 1-2 p.m. 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 Rickey.Antoine@portarthurtx.gov, or call 409-983-8673 and leave a message or voice mail question, or mail them to: Ofc. Rickey Antoine, 645 Fourth St., Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you happen to see me in public you can Ask A Cop!