ASK A COP — Can unlicensed teen drive if parents are in the car?

Published 12:11 am Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Leon from Groves asks: My sister and I are always getting into arguments about her allowing her 17-year-old son to drive her to different places within this area. I know this sounds harmless, but her son doesn’t have a driver’s license. My sister has a Texas Driver’s License. Is it legal or illegal to allow a teenager who doesn’t have a license to drive a car as long as a licensed driver is in the front seat?

Answer: This is a continuous effort that law enforcement officers all over the state of Texas must battle daily, and that’s licensed motorists allowing unlicensed motorists to drive a motor vehicle. Just because you have a Texas Driver’s License and you are in the vehicle with someone who doesn’t have a license, they cannot drive under your authority. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an adult or teenager; if you do NOT have in your possession a valid driver’s license, you are not permitted to drive a motor vehicle on the roadways of Texas. So, Leon, advise your sister not only can her son be cited for driving without a valid license, but she can as well for permitting an unlicensed person to drive.

Sonny from Port Arthur asks: I was driving the other day and was stopped at a railroad crossing. I did not try to beat the train, but I didn’t make it through the crossing before the railroad crossing arms lowered. With that said, I’m now perplexed wondering if I was too close to the railroad tracks. Is there a law pertaining to the distance that a car can stop approaching a railroad crossing arms?

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Answer: This is apparently one of those questions that doesn’t get asked a lot because of how many violations and many motorists instinctively believe they know what’s right. There’s a law in Texas that regulates your stopping distance at a railroad crossing. You cannot be any closer than 50 feet to the nearest rail arm at any railroad crossing in the state of Texas. Why anyone would be a daredevil and park so close to a railroad is beyond me. In the case of an unfortunate event, I’d want to take evasive action to escape from any form of harm. Stay back at least 50 feet.

Carolina from Port Arthur asks: What does the law in Texas state about lights being out on your car and you are not aware the headlight is out? Can you get a ticket if you did not know a headlight is out in your car?

Answer: The Texas Transportation Code is unlike any of the other codes that govern the state of Texas. With the Texas Transportation Code, there’s no culpable mental state the officer has to prove the accused to be intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or was criminally negligent. With the Transportation Code in Texas, all the officers have to prove is that you did it, not that you meant to do the offense. So with that said Carolina, yes, you can legally be stopped and issued a citation by a police officer if you have a headlamp, or any required light that is out on your vehicle, without your knowledge. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure all inspected items are functioning correctly on said vehicle.

Join Officer Rickey Antoine for Ask A Cop Live on KSAP 96.9 FM every Tuesday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. as Antoine discusses the Ask A Cop article. Tune in at Ask your question live at 409-982-0247. Email your questions to, call 409-983-8673 and leave a message 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!