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ASK A COP: What’s the limit on passengers?

From the desk of the Chief of Police Tim Duriso and all of the proud, hard-working men and women of the Port Arthur Police Department, we extend a happy Independence Day, 4th of July to all of our Port Arthurians and neighboring communities whom we serve daily.

We hope everyone is able to come together and join our nation as we enjoy a safe and peaceful 4th of July celebration.

Also we all know that popping fireworks is illegal in Port Arthur, but we still will have some of our citizens ignite fireworks and our dispatch department becomes flooded with such calls. Please understand that we’re not ignoring your call; be patient with us as we still have other calls for service that may have a greater need of response!

Reminder! Law enforcement agencies will be out in force to keep our roads safe as you travel. AAA estimates a record setting 39.8 million Americans will chose automobiles as means of transportation during the 4th of July holiday travel season. National Safety Conference estimates that nationally between July 3-7, which is the 4th of July holiday, that 565 lives will be lost and another 64,500 people will receive serious bodily injuries from traffic crashes on our roadways. Keep in mind as you celebrate and if you’re going to consume alcoholic beverage that you do so responsibly.

Never take a chance: As you plan to drink adult beverages, also plan for a responsible, sober driver to transport you home. Also, with celebrating the 4th of July, there’s a tradition of popping fireworks. The popping of fireworks in the city limits of Port Arthur is illegal; even the mere possession of fireworks in the city of Port Arthur is illegal! Fireworks are very dangerous and should not be handled by unskilled pyrotechnic workers.

Why would municipalities like Port Arthur have such an ordinance prohibiting people from celebrating with fireworks? It’s because fireworks in the hands of the unskilled are dangerous and deadly. In 2017, eight people were killed and apparently 13,000 injured to the degree that they sought emergency care for the use of fireworks, and 66% of those deaths and injuries are during the 4th of July celebration. Having knowledge of this beforehand makes it seem like we need to find a different way to celebrate.

Do not be dismayed. The city of Port Arthur along with neighboring municipalities will have a fireworks display on the 4th under the control of professional pyrotechnics that can be viewed over the city but is enjoyed much more if you gather near the seawall in Port Arthur.

Mable from Port Neches asks: Officer Antoine, thank you for this column. I can’t express my gratitude to you, PAPD and The News for educating the public on driving laws. Officer Antoine, the other day a co-worker and I were enjoying some retail therapy (shopping) when we observed a small four-door vehicle with two adults and five children crammed in the back seat. Officer Antoine, I’m sure this vehicle couldn’t seat more than five people, but they were surely sitting on top of each other inside that car. Officer Antoine, is it illegal to have more people in a vehicle than what it’s designed to accommodate?

Answer: Good question, Mable! I can imagine the shock that you experienced witnessing all of the passengers, especially the children in such a small vehicle. Mable, it only makes sense that if a vehicle is equipped to accommodate five passengers that no more than five passengers can legally ride in said vehicle.

But according to state law, we do not enforce seatbelt laws on private property and if all seatbelts in the vehicle are properly used securing passengers, then additional passengers can ride in the same vehicle without being secured by a seatbelt.

So the number of passengers a vehicle is equipped to hold doesn’t necessarily mean all the passengers that vehicle can legally transport on the road. Mable, of course this means transporting passengers is dangerous but legal. I guess the question is, who’s volunteering to be the unsecured passengers?

Chris from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, this blew my mind. I saw a car on the road while I was in Humble with no doors, no hood or trunk cover! It appeared that this car surely shouldn’t be on any road legally in Texas. This car looked like it should be in the junkyard. What’s even more shocking is that a police officer pulled up next to the vehicle and just shook his head. Now, Officer Antoine, is this legal to drive on the roads of Texas without any doors, hood or trunk cover? Thanks for all you do.

Answer: Good Question Chris! As strange as that vehicle may have appeared to be on the roadway without doors, hood or trunk cover, there’s nothing in the Texas Transportation Code that prohibits such operation. I’m sure that’s why the officer did not take any action because there was nothing illegal about the vehicle. Chris, I would agree with you that this car probably looked like it was ready to be sent to a salvage yard but as long as it was inspected with current registration and insured it was no fault for this vehicle to be on the roads of Texas.

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!