ASK A COP — On traffic stops, you must ID yourself
ASK A COP
From the desk of the Chief of Police Tim Duriso and all of the sworn officers and employees of the Port Arthur Police Department we hope that all of our citizens enjoyed a peaceful and safe Memorial Day. We would take this time to honor and thank all of the past and current members of these U.S. Armed forces, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of this country.
Victor from Orange asks: Officer Antoine, about a week ago a friend and I were just cruising around town enjoying the beautiful weather. Suddenly our day was ruined because we saw red and blue lights in the rearview mirror behind us and police sirens blaring signaling for us to pull over.
Officer Antoine, we were pulled over but we were certain that we had done nothing wrong. Now here comes this police officer demanding we roll down the window and all he said was just give me your license and insurance. My friend, who was the driver, began to demand the reason we were stopped. The officer ignored my friends question and continued demanding our identification. Officer Antoine, do we have to give our identification to a police officer when we feel we have done no wrong?
Answer: Good question, Victor! It is not a pleasant experience seeing the red and blue lights behind your vehicle. Victor, police in Texas cannot pull you over for no reason at all. Police officers must have probable cause to initiate a traffic stop in the state of Texas. Police officers must have a reasonable suspicion that the driver or passenger(s) in the car has or is about to commit a crime to initiate a traffic stop. Of course, this may be for some simple violation like failure to signal change lanes or as we spoke in last’s column, throwing gum out of the vehicle.
Once a police officer has initiated the traffic stop under probable cause, yes, you are required by law to identify yourself, even if at the time you feel like you have done no wrong. You should not go back-and-forth with the police officer trying to find out why you were stopped at that point. It would be foolish of me, Victor, to say there has never, currently never, or will never be a police officer that conducted a traffic stop without probable cause.
In the situation you were facing, I would urge you and your friend to comply with officers’ demands. Victor, your friend and you should properly identify yourself with the state-issued identification card or by whatever means you are able to truthfully identity yourself. At this point, allow the police officer to complete his investigation to the stop and if you’re not satisfied about the legality of the stop you can request to speak with a supervisor.
Remember, Victor, if you feel like your rights have been violated, or you have been mistreated during a traffic stop, don’t verbally fight your battle on the side of the road because YOU WILL NOT WIN! Also, keep in mind that in southeast Texas, I believe all departments have recording devices either on the officer’s body or in their vehicles — maybe both — like we have in Port Arthur. So be sure of your facts when you complain because the incident will be recorded.
Beth from Nederland: Officer Antoine, I surely enjoy the Ask A Cop article weekly. Also, I live in an apartment complex in Nederland and it was shocking to me I had a flat tire on my car over the weekend. I was concerned that I received a sticker on my car from management threatening to tow my vehicle if I did not fix my tire. All of my stickers are up to date and my car is not a junk vehicle. My question is: Can apartment management legally tow my vehicle because my tire is flat?
Answer: Good question, Beth! On private property such as an apartment complex, management has power to tow any vehicles that are outside of their property compliance. Beth it would be best for you to re-read your rental agreement and see what management has stated they would do to vehicles that are not kept up on the properties. With that said “yes” apartment complex managers do have the power to tow vehicles that are not kept up to standard on their property. Beth, it would be better if you would go into the office and speak with your apartment management regarding the flat tire and the events that led to your tire being flat, like you not knowing about it.
Tammy from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, if someone has a Texas driver license but has failed to renew his license after it has expired, how long does the person have to renew their license after it has been expired?
Answer: Good question, Tammy! If a person in Texas who has been issued a Texas driver license or ID card allows those documents to be expired past two years, they must either go on line to the Texas Department of Public Safety website and see if they’re eligible for license or ID renewal. Or they can appear in person at the Department of Public Safety Office. If they’re eligible then they would be have to apply for a identification card or driver license as a new applicant, which would include retaking the behind-the-wheel test, written and eye exam as well as providing proof of Texas citizenship.
Join Officer Antoine for Ask A Cop Live on KSAP 96.9 FM, “The Breeze” radio station every Tuesday 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!
See also: ASK A COP — Is her license at risk?