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ASK A COP — Stay 500 feet behind traveling emergency vehicle

Collenn from Beaumont asks: Officer Antoine thank you for this column. It’s very informational. My question today is regarding distance to follow behind emergency vehicles. Officer Antoine, the other day an ambulance passed by me, it wasn’t going very fast so I was wondering if I was too close to the ambulance. The ambulance seemed to be about a half a block in front of me. I was wondering if I was too close to the ambulance as it traveled in the same direction on the road? Is there a law in the state of Texas that says how close you can travel behind an ambulance?

Answer: Good question Collenn! I’m sure this is a question that nearly all motorists DO NOT have the correct answer to, and that’s the traveling distance behind an emergency vehicle i.e, Ambulance, Fire Apparatus. The state of Texas requires all motorists to travel no closer than 500 feet of an emergency vehicle with its red flashing lights activated. Collenn, 500 feet is roughly 1.5 city blocks. So with you saying you were about half a block away from the ambulance, that would put you in violation of state law following to closely to ambulance. You don’t know the intent of turning or changing lanes of emergency vehicles and movements they are about to partake in because all of their signals are already activated, so for your safety and the uninterrupted or delay of an emergency vehicle “STAY BACK 500”! Also, you don’t know where the emergency vehicles are going to stop. If you’re too close, you may wind up in a crime scene interrupting the investigation, so once again give emergency vehicles 500 feet. Refer to Texas Transportation Code 545.407

Calvin from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, I can remember several years ago you gave me a ticket for a license plate frame around my license plate. Now as I drive on the roadway today and I saw all kinds of license plate frames on vehicles and the Police ain’t doing nothing about it. Officer Antoine, was I singled out by you while you were having a bad day of what? Why aren’t police officers doing anything about the license plate frames on all of these vehicles? I’m not shy of taking my medicine when I’m wrong but I would like to see that I’m not the only one being given medication!

Answer: Good question Calvin! I can assure you Calvin that you were NOT singled out by me and given a citation that I wouldn’t have given to anyone else. I don’t remember your particular citation but I do remember a period when the law had changed regarding license plate frames. During this period, the state passed a law that outlawed ANY of the lettering on license plates to be covered. So police officers all over the state of Texas started enforcing this law and lawmakers in Texas decided to change the language in the law that specified just the license plate number could not be obstructed, So Calvin that’s why you may see several vehicles on the roadways with license plate frames because TODAY it’s legal to have a frame around the state issued license plate.

Dave from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine my cousin and I were in Houston for the Thanksgiving and a fire truck was putting out a fire and the hose was stretched across the street. My cousin wanted to drive over it because it was in the way he was driving. I told him he shouldn’t drive over a firehose. We debated a few times then he decided to listen to my advice. Is it illegal to run over a fire hose in Texas?

Answer: Good Question Dave! I’m glad your friend listened to wisdom, because it is illegal to run over a fire hose in Texas. But permission to cross over a fire hose can be given by a fire department official who’s in command on the scene. So if any of us see fire hoses laid across the street, no matter if they are flat or round filled with water, respect the fire department property and stay off the hoses! Refer to Texas Transportation Code 545.408

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 article. You can also tune in at ksapthebreeze.org. Feel free to call in and ask your question live 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, or mail them to: Ofc. Rickey Antoine, 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you happen to see me in public you can “Ask A Cop”!