ASK A COP — Can people legally ride in a vehicle’s trunk?
Mike from Port Arthur asks: Several of my friends were having a good time over the 4th of July weekend, and we all decided to go to the store just a few blocks away. We crowded into one car, but there just wasn’t enough room for the two friends left, so they opened up the trunk, took out the spare tire and other items and sat in the trunk. Of course I’m sure by the last statement you can tell we all had been drinking (all of legal age, over 21). At this point no one in my opinion was intoxicated. When we all get together, we just do silly boneheaded male stuff. Now EVERYBODY found humor in this because we are all clowns, even me! Now my question to you, is it illegal to ride in the trunk of a car?
Answer: I can imagine the fun you guys were having, hanging out with each other enjoying alcoholic beverages. But in my professional and personal opinion, mixing a motor vehicle with the consumption of alcoholic beverages ALWAYS sends up RED flags! The consumption of alcohol is a great deceiver, and once you have finished your first drink you are IMPAIRED. DRINKING AND DRIVING DONT MIX! IMPAIRMENT starts after the first drink. You may not be intoxicated according to the state of Texas’ standard, but you are definitely NOT 100 percent SOBER either! We take uncalculated and dumb risks once we are under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. If all of the passenger seats were occupied, there is NOTHING that addresses riding in the trunk of a car being illegal in Texas. Of the crazy decisions, it’s somewhere around 9.3 out of possible 10 scale. Although this may not be illegal, it’s 100% NOT SAFE. The next time you guys decide to get together, don’t allow this behavior of riding in the trunk of a car be an option, some of y’all could have easily stayed at home while others went to the store! See how easily alcohol can impair our decisions. ALCOHOLIC beverages and DRIVING don’t MIX!
Silvia from Beaumont asks: My husband works long hours and often drives home fatigued. Is it illegal to drive after staying up a certain amount of hours or being too tired?
Answer: The Transportation Code does not address driving tired as a violation. Now the operator of a commercial motor vehicle must maintain record of his driving time along with rest time in their logbook, but such regulations are not applicable to motorists of passenger vehicles on the roadway of Texas. That doesn’t mean this is a recommended practice, because studies have proved if you have been up 24 continuous hours without sleep and operate a motor vehicle, you are as impaired as an intoxicated driver with a BAC of 0.08. At this time it’s not a safe practice but it’s not illegal to drive tired unless other laws are violated because of his impairment or a driver of a commercial motor vehicle in Texas.
Amber from Bridge City asks – My family encountered a problem with my 12-year-old nephew last week. For some reason, he took my sister’s (his mother’s) keys to her vehicle and backed up and drove it down the road. Fortunately, he encountered another family member on the same road and he was stopped and brought back to the house. Little do I have to tell you how this devastated my sister, knowing her son went JOY RIDING in her vehicle. Of course, I don’t have to tell you of his end result from that night. He doesn’t have a driver license, and the thought of him driving just makes us all very nervous. He could have easily caused a crash and hurt someone or himself. What are the tickets he could have received if he was stopped by law enforcement and the fines for tickets?
Answer – This haunts me knowing that this type of offense happens more than we would care to think about. Texas police officers CANNOT issue a traffic/driving citation to ANY juvenile under the age of 15 for a violation of the Transportation Code. The citation must be issued to the parent or guardian if possible. His mother would have to file charges against her son for “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.” This to me is a very serious offense. Kids “JOY RIDING” actually is not considered as “JOY RIDING” anymore in the Transportation Code. Joy Riding is now “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle,” which carries a sentence of state jail felony up to two years in the state penitentiary or juvenile detention facility. I’m thankful your family member was able to stop the vehicle and return the kid back to his home without something tragic occurring off the roadway at the hands of an inexperienced child behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Keep in mind that no one in the state of Texas can use your vehicle without your consent. If they do, you have the right to contact your local police department and file felony criminal charges against them for “unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.” As a parent, I hope his punishment fit his crime.
Join me, Officer Rickey Antoine, for Ask A Cop on KSAP 96.9 FM The Breeze every Tuesday from 1 to 2 p.m. as we discuss the newly released “Ask A Cop” article. You can tune in via the web at ksapthebreeze.org. Call in your question live at 409-982-0247. Remember to email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 always approach and “Ask A Cop!”
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