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ASK A COP — Change in surcharges due Sept. 1

This is huge: The state of Texas has moved to end the Drive Responsibly Program on Sept. 1. That means no more surcharges will be added to any driver’s license for any infractions.

If your license is suspended/not eligible because of outstanding surcharges that were assigned to your license without any effort on your part on Sept. 1 those charges will be dropped and you can have your license reinstated at any Department of Public Safety Office in Texas.

If you currently have an agreement with the state of Texas to pay a certain amount of surcharge fees, you will still be expected to keep your agreement to pay until Sept. 1. Any driver’s License suspension related to previous surcharges will remain on your driver’s license record after Sept. 1.

With that said, the department will no longer access points to driver’s license for moving violations. If points have been previously assigned to a driver’s license for moving violations they will automatically be removed on Sept. 1.

Ken from Port Neches asks: Officer Antoine, two weekends ago I was transporting some of my younger family members to a family gathering. I’ll admit that I had about 10 children age ranging from 5-15 on the bed of my truck. I drove about 20mph for about one mile on a back street. Now, when I arrived to the gathering, my know-it-all sister started yelling at me, telling me I endangered those children on back of the truck, because it’s against the law to transport children who are not 17 years of age. Now I come to you, Officer Antoine: Is this true that you have to be 17 or above to ride on the back of a pickup?

Answer: Good question, Ken! Well, I hope that disagreement didn’t put a damper on your family outing. I’m sure you had no intentions on placing any of your younger family members in danger, but ignorance of the law often is the cause of injury and death on the roads of Texas. Your sister was wrong in the minimum age requirement to ride in the bed of a pickup in Texas: The age is 18, not 17. There are certain exceptions to this law i.e. parades, beaches, only family vehicle operated by member of household. Ken, I’m sure you did not mean to intentionally put the children in harm’s way, but ignorance to driving laws often lead to injury and even death! That’s why I thank you for reaching out for a better understanding of law. Ken, Mama always told me the day we stop learning is the day we need to lay down.

Emma from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, I have a vehicle that has a remote start, and I read some time ago that you said I couldn’t get a ticket in Texas for leaving my vehicle unattended if your vehicle has an remote starter. My question is does that law apply if you put the key in the ignition and have already driven the vehicle?

Answer: Good question, Emma! You have a vehicle that has a remote start and you can start the vehicle remotely and can drive the vehicle to a different location. If you exit your vehicle with the key in your possession while the vehicle is still running and no one can put the vehicle in gear without the key inside the vehicle, then this law applies to you. This law allows you to leave your vehicle unattended because no one can operate the vehicle unless they physically have the key in their possession.

Sonny from Groves asks: Officer Antoine, thanks for all you do to keep us safe. I know a lot of people don’t like you but there are still some who respect and appreciate your work. Can I get a ticket for old windshield wipers and how bad do the wipers have to be before I am ticketed?

Answer: Good question, Sonny! Yes, you can be cited for defective equipment (windshield wipers)! Police officers will not routinely walk around inspecting windshield wipers on vehicles but during an official investigation a police officer might determine that the worn defective wipers were a contributing factor to the crash. Keep in mind: You will need to have your wipers in good working condition before you can have it pass the state annual inspected.

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!