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ASK A COP — Do you have to sign after a cop gives you a ticket?

Judy from Houston asks: I was born and raised in Port Arthur and moved to Houston, but I still love and keep up with my hometown. Proud to know that little PA has a column like this where we can get regular driving laws from our police in The News, and the big Houston Chronicle doesn’t! Now I have a question for you. I was stopped recently, and the police officer said I was speeding. I wasn’t familiar with the area, but I didn’t think I was speeding. So he wrote me a ticket that said I was going 49 mph in a 30 mph zone. I didn’t agree with him so I refused to sign it, and he told me if I didn’t I was going to jail. How rude could he have been to threaten to take me to jail just for speeding and to add insult to injury, I look up and three more squad cars had arrived to my car. I’m just a woman. Was all of that necessary? Is it legal for the officer to threaten to take me to jail if I didn’t sign the ticket or was that a scare tactic that police officers use?

Answer: I’m sorry for the encounter you had with the police officer, but I must inform you all of your troubles were self-inflicted. Here’s what I mean: First, you were stopped because you probably were unknowingly speeding. I say that because you admitted you were unfamiliar to the area, and speeding is a common mishap when unfamiliar to an area. The second reason is because you refused to sign the citation that was presented to you by a Texas police officer. Judy, in Texas, when a police officer decides to issue you a citation for a violation he/she’s accusing you of, “YOU MUST SIGN THE TICKET OR GO TO JAIL!” There’s no other option or choice we have. In your case, you didn’t agree with the officer’s accusation, but when you sign a citation in Texas, it is not an agreement to a charge, rather a “PROMISE TO APPEAR!” I hope you and other readers spread the word that the accused must sign the citation or be arrested in the great state of Texas.

Juan from Port Arthur asks – I was traveling on Highway 69 headed back in town from what seems like a daily trip to Lowe’s. This trip home was different because I had a full load on the back of my truck, which made me very uneasy traveling at a high rate of speed. I turned on my flashers and was driving in the right lane, going slower than the normal traffic flow. Other drivers seemed to get angry, blow their horns and one gave a finger salute when they passed. I’m aware of the posted speed limit, but is there a minimum speed limit on Highway 69?

Answer: Sir, you seem to be busy repairing your home like many other residents in the city of Port Arthur and surrounding communities. I have made and am still making my fair share of trips to Lowe’s and related businesses. I smiled when you said you had activated your hazard lamps while driving in the right lane because that’s the correct driving procedure when traveling much slower than posted limit. With that said, NO, there is NOT a minimum speed limit on Highway 69. I’d recommend you continue to stay in the outside or right hand lane and activate your hazard lamps if you’re loaded down with supplies to repair your home. Juan, best wishes to you and all readers who are getting their homes repaired. I personally know the struggle!

Sharon from Beaumont asks – I travel a lot and if there’s a crash on the highway and traffic is backed up, normally without fail, vehicles will start to cut over the grassy median to avoid waiting in the stand still 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 will cross the median!

Answer: 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. As luck would have it, “YOU” will be the one caught and immediately your excuse will be “everyone was crossing the median,” which will not amount to a hill of beans.

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 discussed Ask A Cop. Tune in via ksapthebreeze.org. Ask your question live at 409-982-0247. Email questions to Rickey.Antoine@portarthurtx.gov, call 409-983-8673 and leave a message or mail to Ofc. Rickey Antoine, 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you happen to see me in public you can Ask A Cop!