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ASK A COP — What to do if you are in a crash on private property

All motorists need to be aware that the Port Arthur Independent School District’s first day for students to return to school from Summer break will be Wednesday (Aug. 11). We need to adjust our driving behavior and preparing to leave for your daily journey earlier, because our roads will be experiencing a higher number of vehicles on the roadway due to school traffic. Prepare to encounter yellow school buses that have stopped and activated their red flashing lights and stop signs. Remember if you leave late expect to arrive late!

Matt from Nederland asks: Is it true the state of Texas has a driver’s license denial program for those who are behind on child support? Can you please explain?

Answer: YES YES YES, the state of Texas launched its program Sept. 1, 2016, to go after noncustodial parents delinquent on the child support payments. Someone at least six months delinquent on child support payments will no longer be able to renew a vehicle registration. Keep this in mind that the state Office of Attorney General will mail you a notice within 90 days of your renewal advising you will NOT be able to renew your vehicle registration at your local department of Motor Vehicle until you contact them first. Your fight will NOT be with the Department of Motor Vehicles, so don’t go there demanding renewal. There will be absolutely nothing they can assist you with. You will need to contact the Office of Attorney General — 866-646-5611 — to make payment arraignments. There are other ways the Office of Attorney General are suspending people because of at least three months of back child support like driver licenses and permits ranging from medical, dental and law licenses to hunting and fishing licenses.

Mary Lou from Port Arthur asks: What information should I provide if I hit a vehicle on private property and the other vehicle is unoccupied? Do I have to stay? Should I leave my insurance information, name and phone number? Please provide me with the correct answer. I’ve heard quite a few different answers and now I’m not sure what the true answer is.

Answer: This is one law that not many motorists know or refuse to comply with. If you strike an unattended vehicle the first thing you should do, if time permits, is attempt to find the driver of said vehicle. If you have no luck finding the driver, you should leave in a conspicuous place or securely attach in a plainly visible way your NAME and ADDRESS along with a brief statement of what happened. YES, failing to leave this information is a violation in Texas no matter if the vehicle is unattended on private property or a road. If you leave the scene without providing the above information and the damage to the unattended vehicle is $200 or more, you can be charged with a class B misdemeanor, which carries a penalty up to 180 days in jail and $2,000 fine if found guilty in a court of law. If you are involved with a crash and the second vehicle is empty, stop and leave your information. See Texas Transportation Code 550.024

Tim from Port Arthur asks: Let’s say I’m traveling on a two-lane road (one lane going each direction) where the speed limit is 70 mph and the vehicle in front of you is traveling 60 mph. Would it be legal or illegal if I accelerate momentarily above the speed limit with enough clearance to safely change lanes to any oncoming vehicle. Is this behavior considered “OK” in Texas or would I be breaking the law?

Answer: – As licensed drivers of motor vehicles, we SHOULD all be AWARE of the SPEED of the vehicles we are in control of at all times. Our vehicles will only do what we command it to do. We must remember last week’s answer from the Texas Transportation Code 545.351, which states “an operator may NOT drive at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances then existing.” This is a wonderful question because I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard the excuse “I was just passing someone.” My rule of thumb that I practice when driving is “if I’m passing other vehicles on the road way, I need to check my speed.” One of two things will be for sure, either they are driving way under the speed limit or I’m driving over the posted limit.

If you decide to pass a vehicle, you are allowed to pass within the maximum posted speed limit. If the vehicle in front of you is going 60 mph and the speed limit is 70 mph, you don’t have to feel like a turtle on the road. State law still allows you in this situation to still go up to 10 mph faster than the vehicle you are passing or 70 mph and be within the legal limits of the law. Tim, I’m not certain your age, but those of us who been on this earth a few days can remember when the maximum posted speed on our highway was 55. The slogan then was “55 and stay alive.” Many drivers feel they will get run over if they drive slow, so they just join the crowd and SPEED, We all know we can’t control another driver, its a full time job keeping our driving behavior is check.

Join Me, Officer Rickey Antoine for Ask A Cop live on KSAP 96.9 FM The Breeze every Tuesday from 1 p.m. until we are done discussing the “Ask A Cop” article. Tune in via internet at ksapthebreeze.org. Feel free to call in questions live at 409-982-0247. Remember to email questions to rantoine@portarthurpd.com, 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 “Ask A Cop!”