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ASK A COP: Penalty same for running stop signs

Mike from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, I’m sure that you and I are the only two people that actually stop at stop signs. At least I assume you do since you are Port Arthur’s Top Traffic Cop. We observe multiple “run throughs” every day. Some slowly go through but some of the gomers blast through which is quite spooky. Is there a different fine for blasting through a stop sign and slow rolling through a stop sign? Will be waiting with bated breath for your reply.

Answer: Good question, Mike! Well Mike, thanks for the compliment, but I can’t go on record and say just you and I are the ONLY motorists in Port Arthur who are obeying the stop sign law in Texas. There are many law-abiding citizens who travel the rods of Port Arthur daily. I will agree with you that we definitely have a problem with motorists disregarding stop signs in the city of Port Arthur. Mike, disregarding the signs or signals at Intersections is very dangerous; in 2017, 763 lives were senseless lost to someone disregarding the intersection. Based on reportable crashes in 2017: 1 person was killed every 2 hours 21 minutes, 1 person was injured every 2 minutes 4 seconds, 1 reportable crash occurred every 59 seconds. If you’re doing the math, that’s 1,440 crashes (wrecks) daily that police officers actually make a written report about and hundreds of those are accounted to disregarding traffic-control devices at intersections. Mike, there’s no difference in the fine amount in a court of law whether someone rolls through or totally blows a stop sign. The municipal court of Port Arthur will fine anyone found guilty of disregarding a stop sign $204. Now you can breathe, Mike (smiling)!

Charles from Port Arthur asks: I was discussing being stopped by an unmarked vehicle with police lights in the grill! Many years ago, I was traveling in Louisiana coming back home to Port Arthur and someone in an unmarked truck with lights in the grill tried to stop me but I refused to pull over. They even pulled up alongside me and motioned me over and I didn’t see any law enforcement uniform. So they took the Sulphur exit and motioned me to follow but I kept going straight. Officer Antoine, I was uncomfortable with stopping for that truck; what was I supposed to do?

Answer: Good question, Charles! I can understand your discomfit and the state of Texas does as well to the point it supports you not stopping until you feel it’s safe. Now of course, this don’t mean ignore the officer or vehicle behind you  and you don’t stop until you get home! Charles, you had a right to be concerned because there are individuals out there attempting to impersonate police officers. The best course of action for you, Charles, and anyone, is if you’re not comfortable about stopping for an unmarked vehicle with emergency lights or the current location is not safe, is to slow down below posted speed limit, move into the right lane, turn on your hazard lamps (flashers) and call 911 to confirm if indeed if it’s a law enforcement vehicle attempting to stop you!

Be patient because the vehicle may be outside of its jurisdiction and that information may not be immediately available to dispatcher. Charles, it appears if you didn’t see that vehicle anymore that he didn’t want you to stop or either as you wondered it wasn’t an official law enforcement vehicle. Glad everything worked in your favor!

Tina from Beaumont asks: Officer Antoine I work in Port Arthur and I have had the opportunity and pleasure to enjoy your radio show on the Breeze 96.9 FM. What a wonderful way for the police to connect with the community. I can’t begin to tell you how much you have changed my driving behavior and my overall opinion of police officers because of the Ask a Cop program. Officer Antoine, you spoke about the blue parking tag being illegal to hang on the rearview mirror and I want to ask a question in that line. Is it illegal to hang other things like baby shoes, air fresheners, Mardi Gras beads, etc. around the rear view mirror. Thanks for the helpful information and entertainment you provide for this community.

Answer: Good question, Tina! Thanks for being a regular listener of the program. Community involvement and outreach is a high priority for all officers from Chief of Police Tim Duriso. Tina, you are correct that the blue disabled placards shouldn’t be hanging around the rearview mirror while driving. It is only a special parking tag. Now Tina, the law we’re dealing with is Obstruction of Operator’s View and we all should take precautionary measures to make sure that our view of the front window is clear without any obstructions. Tina, it would be illegal to hang anything from the rearview mirror that will obstruct the driver’s view. We love Mardi Gras in Southeast Texas and catching beads is a focal part of the festivities but the beads shouldn’t be hung from the rearview mirror. There are others places to hang air fresheners instead of the rearview mirror!

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!