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ASK A COP — Fireworks illegal within Port Arthur, regardless of holiday

From the desk of Chief Tim Duriso: I along with the entire Port Arthur Police Department want to wish all of the citizens of Port Arthur and the readers of The News a very Happy, Safe, Healthy and Prosperous New Year 2021!

I know I’ve spoken on this before, but I’d be remiss if I exclude a reminder about COVID-19 safety guidelines of wearing masks, no large gatherings, washing your hands. We are currently experiencing the greatest impact of this pandemic since March of 2020, so be careful to protect yourself and others around you.

As we approach the New Year we must deal with several issues that are illegal that our citizenry partakes in every New Year celebration and that’s the display of fireworks, driving while intoxicated and public intoxication. The mere possession of fireworks in the city limits of Port Arthur is ILLEGAL, and any violator can have their fireworks confiscated and/or be issued a citation.

The display of fireworks are dangerous to novice users. Fireworks users were involved with an estimated 10,000 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2019. Fireworks are also a fire hazard where an estimated 19,500 fires started by fireworks were reported to local fire departments in the U.S. during 2018. These fires caused five civilian deaths, 46 civilian injuries and $105 million in direct property damage. Fireworks are mostly made of paper and when ignited the paper is littered all over the community which those who participate in the ignition of fireworks don’t normally clean up behind themselves.

We all know that fireworks sounds very similar to gun shots, and your neighbors will call in reporting someone shooting firearms. We don’t need to be loaded with gunshot calls that are actually fireworks being ignited. Lastly, if you are issued a citation and found guilty in the municipal court of Port Arthur, the fine starts at $500!

I understand that one of the favorite ways to celebrate the New Year is to consume adult beverages, so I’m asking that all who partake do so responsibly. “Think before you drink;” law enforcement agencies all over this city, county, state and nation will be out in force to assure our roadways are safe for travel during the New Year holiday.

Sharon from Winnie asks: I work every day in Port Arthur. Officer, I travel a lot and if there’s a crash on the highway and traffic is backed up, normally without fail, vehicles start to cut over the grassy median to avoid waiting in the standstill traffic. Is this practice of cutting across the median legal? Because once one does it, there’s almost a domino effect, where many other motorists cross the median!

Answer: If you travel on the highways of Texas, at some point you will find yourself in stalled traffic and this is when we, as responsible motorists, have to exercise this long lost thing called patience while driving. This is an issue that definitely needs to be addressed. Cutting across a median to avoid waiting in stalled traffic is ILLEGAL in Texas, and should NOT be undertaken unless directed by a law enforcement officer on scene. Keep in mind, just because you see someone else doing something, doesn’t mean it is legal or that you should do it as well, because just as luck would have it, “YOU” will be the one caught. Immediately, your excuse will be “everyone was crossing the median,” which will not mount to a hill of beans!

James from Port Arthur asks: My grandson has been bugging me for some time about me purchasing TV screens for his vehicle. Why he’s so into having TV screens in his vehicle is beyond my understanding. I would love to get them as a gift for him, but I’m not certain if they’re even legal. Is it legal to have TV screens in vehicles?

Answer: With the age of technology, we find there are plenty of aftermarket items sold for our precious vehicles. TV screens often come as standard equipment on some expensive vehicles. TV screens may be installed in vehicles, BUT they must be installed where they are out of the view of the DRIVER. It is a violation in Texas to have the TV screens on in view of the driver while the vehicle is on the roadway. It’s OK to gift your grandson TV screens, just assure they cannot be viewed by him while he’s driving.

Join Officer Rickey Antoine for Ask A Cop Live on KSAP 96.9 FM every Tuesday  from 1-2:30 p.m. as Officer Antoine discusses the Ask A Cop article. Feel free to call in at 409-982-0247. Email 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. If you happen to see me in public you can Ask A Cop.