ASK A COP — Law requires drivers to present licenses
Published 12:05 am Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Carl from Nederland asks: Officer Antoine, here is my stupid question for the day! I was stopped the other day by a police officer, and to my surprise I realized I didn’t have my wallet with me. The officer was able to determine that I had insurance through his computer but he drilled me about my license. Officer Antoine, he seemed to ask me the same questions over and over at different times. My question is if police officers are able to determine if I have insurance by their computer, why can’t this same process be applied for a license?
Answer: Good question Carl. This is not a stupid question but it is one that’s simple to answer. The quick, simple answer is because one is illegal and the other isn’t illegal. The state of Texas has several ways that an officer can verify whether a motorist has insurance coverage on their motor vehicle. You can present a paper copy, a digital copy (cellphone) or through police computers. So if you don’t have your insurance card on you, we have the ability to determine if you have current insurance coverage on vehicles. On the other hand, the state of Texas requires ALL motorists to be able to display their driver’s licenses on demand from any law enforcement officer. Carl, it’s much easier process for law enforcement officers to determine if your vehicle is covered than for us to determine who we’ve stopped. Because for some odd reason, some motorists or passengers lie to law enforcement officers about their true identity. So maybe you can understand a little better now why you were questioned in that manner. You never know when you’re gonna need it. Keep your driver’s license readily accessible to you when you leave your home.
Caller from Winnie: Officer Antoine, if someone driving a vehicle approaches a red light at an intersection and wants to turn right on red, is it OK for the driver to turn right without stopping if the traffic is clear from the other direction? I see this done quite often, so I’m wondering if you can turn right on red without coming to a complete stop?
Answer: Good question, Caller! This is a driving behavior that needs to cease immediately. Why, you may ask? Because if you approach an intersection where the traffic signal is red and you turn right without stopping, you just ran the red light. We all should treat the red light at an intersection like a STOP SIGN if we’re desiring to turn right on red. I’ve encountered hundreds of motorists who didn’t know about bringing the vehicle to a complete stop and turning right on red. If you don’t bring the vehicle to a complete stop, you can be stopped and cited for disregarding a traffic signal.
Dan from Groves asks: Officer Antoine, thanks for this column you write weekly. I really don’t have a problem with being caught by a police officer for breaking a law while driving, but why do police officers have to hide in order to catch someone? Why can’t officers just be in plain sight to catch someone instead of hiding? I’ve even seen officers on side of the road at night with their vehicle lights off, in attempt to catch speeders, I assume. Is there a course that officers must take in the academy that specializes in hiding to stop violators?
Answer: Good question, Dan! Hiding, this is one of those questions that is never going to die! Well Dan, to be transparent, there are times when police officers don’t need their presence to be publicly known so they can observe violations, as many citizens report them. When we receive a complaint about speeders in neighborhoods, or a certain street the violation occurred without police presence, and if you put a marked police unit with a police officer inside, the violations would stop. So in order to observe the violators in their normal driving behavior, we like to not be readily visible. There are many instances where officers need to be undercover in order to suppress crimes, and I guess that’s a form of hiding, too. Police officers are allowed to have darker tint than other vehicles on the road, well that’s a form of hiding as well. So Dan, I guess we should have a class specializing in this in the academy, but I’ll assure you at this point we do not (LOL). Hiding in law enforcement is vital, whether it’s for officer safety reasons or to observe violations, because most won’t drive the same when they see a marked police vehicle next to them. Consider this, if you’re not committing a crime, a police officer “hiding” should not be a problem to you, because they are looking for someone breaking the law.
Join Officer Antoine for Ask A Cop Live, on KSAP 96.9 FM, “The Breeze” every Tuesday (today) for from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Tune in and listen as Officer Antoine discusses the newly released Ask A Cop article. You can also tune in via 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, 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 can Ask A Cop!