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ASK A COP — Can veterans’ spouses park in handicapped spaces?

Lady M from Port Arthur asks: I am disabled and have been issued a blue placard by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, which granta me access to disabled parking spots. While I was at the mall I noticed all of the disabled parking spots taken; therefore, I had no choice but to park in the back far from the entrance door. As I made my way in my slow hurry pace, I observed one of the vehicles didn’t have a placard on the rear view mirror, nor did it have disabled plates, but in small print I observed it had spouse of deceased veteran on the plate. Does the state of Texas give the surviving spouses of deceased veterans special parking privileges, or was this vehicle illegally parked?

 

Answer: First, whomever this other motorist was, I extend my condolences to their family and truly thank them for their deceased love one’s service to our nation. This is an area of concern for law enforcement because these special disabled parking spots are violated routinely. It’s hard for police officers to respond to the parking violations and the vehicle still be there. Port Arthur Police Department had a program where citizens would help locate violations with documentation, but that program has stopped. The state does allow surviving spouses to order specialized license plates, but the plates do NOT come with special parking privileges. The state allows for persons with medical disabilities to park in spaces closer to businesses so the access to the facility is not too bothersome physically. I would actually have to investigate to make sure that vehicle with a specialized surviving spouse plate of a deceased veteran was legally parked. A couple of things to consider is the motorist could have laid the placard on the dashboard and you didn’t see it or the specialized plates could have been disabled veterans plates as well for the motorist. I can agree and say that if there was no placard or disabled plates, the specialized place for the surviving spouse plate for deceased veterans does NOT grant a motorist the permission to park in a disabled parking spot in Texas. Ssometimes there is not going to be an available disabled parking spot that can be legally taken. When that happens, we must remember what the late R & B singer Joe Simon said, “it be’s that way sometimes!”

James from Port asks: My grandson has been bugging me for some time about 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, 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 may be installed in vehicles, BUT they must be installed where they are out of view of the DRIVER. It is a violation in Texas to have the TV screens on and in view of the driver while the vehicle is on the roadway. So it’s OK to gift your grandson TV screens, just assure him they cannot be viewed by him while he’s driving .

 

Dwight from Port Arthur asks: I have three grandchildren that are school age, and they often use the school district bus for transportation to and from school. I’m a proud Paw-Paw to be able to attend the different activities they participate in because they are all active in sports, and they are transported pretty much everywhere they go by the big yellow buses the school district provides. I’m concerned about the school buses that are not equipped with seat belts. Shouldn’t ALL school buses have seat belts now? I was under the impression it was the law in Texas that ALL school buses have to be outfitted with seat belts. I’m not complaining about the district, just a very overly concerned Paw-Paw wanting to know why this hasn’t been completed by now.

 

Answer: Believe it or not, as far land vehicles, school buses are the safest means of all ground transportation, with or without safety belts. Consider this, school buses are huge, heavy and high off the ground, and all of this contributes to the added degree of bus safety. There are about 400,000 public school buses that routinely transport approximately 25 million children, and nationwide it records less than ten children each year who are killed as a result of a crash. I know  one child is too many, but when we think about approximately 800 children who are killed each school year while either walking, biking or riding in a passenger vehicle to and from school, that number ten isn’t so bad after all.

Today only six states have school bus seat belt requirements and they are California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and the great state of Texas. Dwight in Texas 2018, all NEW school buses are mandated to be equipped with safety belts. The old buses are grandfathered in because it’s not believed to be cost effective. It’s estimated to cost districts in Texas anywhere between $7,000 to $11,000. School buses are compartmentalized and seats are high with lots of cushion, and it’s been proven to be safer than all other vehicles on the road. Just my opinion backed by facts. I’d much rather let my child ride a school bus than any other means of travel…unless they can fly a plane to school.

 

Join Officer Rickey Antoine for Ask A Cop Live on KSAP 96.9 FM, “The Breeze” every Tuesday from 1 to 2:30 p.m.  You can also tune in at ksapthebreeze.org and call in a question live to 409-982-0247. Remember to email questions to Rickey.Antoine@portarthurtx.gov, call 409-983-8673 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!