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ASK A COP — Unattended car on private property legal

AC3 from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, thanks for the information about unattended vehicles. I have an additional question from your column a couple of weeks ago about leaving a vehicle unattended. Is it permissible in Texas to leave a vehicle unattended on my private property? If I don’t have a remote starter on my vehicle but my vehicle is on my driveway, is this allowed by state law as long as the vehicle is not left unattended in a public place or on a street?

Answer: Good question AC3. Thanks for bringing that question to light for it appears I didn’t elaborate on that part of the question about leaving a vehicle unattended. Leaving a car unattended DOES NOT apply for private property like your driveway. With that said, leaving your vehicle unattended warming up on your driveway is NOT wise, because you give would-be thieves an easy target! It is reported that over 500,000 vehicles are stolen each year and half of those vehicles were left unattended. So AC3 even though state law don’t regulate leaving vehicles unattended on private property, it’s not very wise to do so. Individual municipalities can adapt an ordinance that prohibits motorists from leaving vehicles unattended even on their private property.

Mark from Groves asks: Officer Antoine, if a driver of a car is having a medical episode like a heart attack and runs a red light that resulted in a wreck with another car, would you give the driver who had a heart attack a ticket?

Answer: Good Question Mark! Unfortunately this occurs more than we know! Drivers suffer from a medical crisis while on our roadways that result in crashes and sometimes, unfortunately, fatalities. Mark I won’t step out on a limb and say “NO police officer” will issue a citation to a driver who was involved in a motor vehicle crash. But you asked me so I can say there’s NO way I’ll issue someone a citation who suffered a medical emergency that resulted in a crash! Now during the investigation I would have to document that person who suffered from a heart attack as the driver “at fault” on the crash report. I don’t see any need in “pouring alcohol on a cut” by issuing a citation to the driver who suffered a medical emergency behind the wheel. Mark, this could happen to anyone of us at anytime. Just a note if an officer issues a citation to someone who suffered from a medical emergency while behind the wheel, that Officer is NOT wrong.

Mike from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, I saw something the other day that bothered me while traveling on the highway, so like so many others, it’s my time to Ask A Cop! I was driving to Beaumont for an appointment and came up behind a dump truck that had a sign on the back that read “Stay back 300, not responsible for damage!” This really bothered me because if that truck runs over a rock and it hits my windshield, I expect that company to repair my vehicle. Officer Antoine, at the moment you’re close enough to read the sign, you’re well within 300 feet. Can trucks and companies issue this kind of disclaimer and avoid damaging someone else’s vehicle? Is this legal?

Answer: Good Question Mike! I’ve seen these disclaimer notices on commercial vehicles such as dump trucks. Which in my opinion, this ‘Stay back 300 feet’ sign is not rational driving on our highways in Texas. Mike, think about it, 300 feet is a whole city block, or a 100-yard football field, that trucking companies are claiming immunity to any damages resulting from items falling from their trucks. Now Mike, I will say if the object comes from the ground and propels to your vehicle by the tire, if the truck has proper mudguards installed, there’s nothing in the Texas Transportation Code that faults the truck company. Mike, the Mud Flaps can be no higher than 8 inches for the road. On the other hand, if the object comes out of the bed of the truck, the trucking company can be found at fault for failing to secure or cover their load! I don’t see how the stay back 300’ signs can have much weight in a civil proceeding.

Join Officer Antoine for Ask A Cop Live, on KSAP 96.9 FM, “The Breeze” radio station, every Tuesday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Tune in and listen as Officer Antoine discusses in detail the newly released Ask A Cop. You can also tune in via internet at ksapthebreeze.org. Feel free to call in at 409-982-0247.

Remember to email your questions to Rickey.Antoine@portarthurtx.gov, call 409-983-8673 and leave a message or mail them to: Ofc. Rickey Antoine, 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640.