ASK A COP — Make sure to check you license plate light

Published 12:09 am Tuesday, July 30, 2019

David from Nederland asks: Officer Antoine I am a supporter of law enforcement officers, but my recent encounter with a police officer has me scratching my head. I was stopped the other day (hold on to your seat) for a license plate light being out!!! I was taken back when I heard the reason for me being pulled over. A LICENSE PLATE LIGHT…. come on Officer Antoine ain’t this stretching the arm of the law? What is the law on license lights in Texas?

Answer: Good Question David! Don’t feel like a stranger because most motorists never think about their license plate light until they get pulled over for it. Every reader should pause right now and truthfully think back to the last time they checked to see if their vehicle license light was properly functioning. David it is your, my and every motorist’s responsibility to regularly inspect our vehicles to assure that we are in compliance with the state of Texas Transportation Code. Too often we simply jump in our vehicles without ever inspecting our vehicles. David, even if you have a functioning light bulb to illuminate your plate, it may still not be enough to save you from getting pulled over. The Texas Transportation Code states in section 547.322 that the rear license plate must be illuminated by a white light that “makes the plate clearly legible at a distance of 50 feet from the rear.” David even with a working light, if a police officer cannot see your license plate “clearly” from 50 feet away you are still in violation of the statute, and potentially at risk of being pulled over. This goes for plates that are damaged to the point that the lettering is no longer legible! So, David, the Officer wasn’t stretching the law, if your license plate light was out, he was operating within the law!!!

Dwight from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine keep the article coming, I’m enjoying them every week. I have three grandchildren that are school age, and they often use the school district bus for transportation to and from school. Officer Antoine, I’m a proud Paw-Paw to be able to attend the different activities they participate in because they are all active in sports, and they are transported pretty much everywhere they go by the big yellow buses the school district provides. I’m concerned about the school buses that are not equipped with seat belts. Shouldn’t ALL school buses have seat belts now? I was under the impression it was the law in Texas that ALL school buses have to be outfitted with seat belts. I’m not complaining about the district, just a very overly concerned Paw-Paw about why this hasn’t been completed by now. Officer Antoine thanks for all you do!!!

Answer: Very Good question Dwight especially with the new school year about to begin! Anyone who reads this column regularly can probably tell I’m a huge supporter of safety belt usage in motor vehicles. I understand your concern Dwight, but believe it or not, as far land vehicles, school buses are the safest means of all ground transportation, with or without safety belts. Dwight, consider this, school buses are huge, heavy and high off the ground. All of this contributes to the added degree of bus safety. There are about 400,000 public school buses that routinely transport approximately 25 million children, and nationwide it records less than ten children each year who are killed as a result of a crash. Yeah I know Dwight, one child is too many, but when we think about approximately 800 children who are killed each school year while either walking, biking or riding in a passenger vehicle to and from school, that number ten isn’t so bad after all. Today only six states have school bus seat belt requirements, and they are California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and the great state of Texas. Dwight in Texas 2018, all NEW school buses are mandated to be equipped with safety belts. The old buses are grandfathered in because it’s not believed to be cost effective. It’s estimated to cost districts in Texas anywhere between $7,000 to $11,000. I know, I know, I know! I can here you now, there are arguments to be made on both sides. Cost vs. safety, but the law is the law right now until it changes. School buses are compartmentalized and seats are high with lots of cushion, and it’s been proven to be safer than all other vehicles on the road. Just my opinion backed by facts. I’d much rather let my child ride a school bus than any other means of travel … unless they can fly a plane to school!!!

Danna from Port Arthur asks: After much soul searching and seemingly endless debates with my never wrong husband, I’ve decided to Ask a Cop! Officer Antoine we need help on lane turning. My husband figures when he makes a turn at an intersection he’s allowed to turn in whichever lane he wants because he has the right of way. Of course, I disagree with that theory but he’s insistent that’s he’s correct and I’m wrong. I will admit in the past he has been right on a few issues we’ve had but we really need clarification on this correct lane turning issue! Thanks in advance

Answer: Good Question Danna! I can’t begin to tell you how tickled I get when couples are challenging each other’s knowledge of the Texas Transportation Code. At the end of the day we are educating each other about the safe behavior of driving on our roads, which in turn will make Port Arthur and surrounding communities a safer place to motor! Danna a helpful tool to remember regarding turning is when turning right turn in the right lane and when turning left turn in the left lane. Or consider when turning right use the outside lane and when turning left use the inside lane. Your husband is correct. He has the right of way when turning at a green light traffic intersection but he still should turn in the lanes aforementioned.

Join Officer Antoine forAsk A Cop Live, on KSAP 96.9 FM, “The Breeze” radio station, every Tuesday (Today) for 1 hour from 1p-230p. Tune in and listen as Officer Antoine discusses in detail the newly releasedAsk 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 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you happen to see me in public you canAsk A Cop!