ASK A COP — Why aren’t there sobriety checkpoints in Texas?
Published 12:15 pm Monday, February 21, 2022
Tyler from Nederland asks: I’ve seen on television a lot of police departments have a sobriety checkpoint to get the drunks off the road. Why don’t we have sobriety checkpoints here in Southeast Texas? I’m sure you can meet your quota and beyond. I was hit by a drunk driver, so I have no sympathy for arresting drunk drivers.
Answer: According to the National Highway Safety Administration, Texas sobriety checkpoints “are not permissible in Texas under the federal constitution only because Texas has no statutory scheme authorizing them.” I stand with you that there are too many intoxicated drivers on our roads. But in Texas sobriety checkpoints are ILLEGAL! Even though they consistently reduce alcohol-related accidents, the State of Texas has not authorized police officers to conduct roadblocks, nor have they sanctioned their enforcements techniques. This makes sobriety checkpoints in Texas unconstitutional! Police officers in Texas have to use their skills of noticing signs of intoxication while driving instead of stopping all vehicles on the road in a checkpoint.
Betty from Port Neches asks: I was in the passenger seat while my sister was driving on 9th Ave, where we happened upon a lady riding a motorized wheelchair. Thankfully, my sister is a conscientious driver and noticed the chair make a dangerous decision to cross the road. My sister stopped for the chair and allowed her to cross, and not once did she acknowledge the car that could have easily hit her. If my sister would have hit the lady in the chair, would my sister have been at fault since it’s a wheelchair?
Answer: Thankfully, your sister is such an attentive driver or there could have been serious crash. Persons who need the assistance of motorized wheelchairs are considered PEDESTRIANS by Transportation Code in Texas. Which means motorized wheelchair operators MUST abide to laws as they were walking. Pedestrians/motorized wheelchairs must walk/ride against the flow of traffic. If a sidewalk is available, they must use the sidewalk. Motorized wheelchair operators must use a safety when crossing the roadway and should only cross at intersections. From the information you provided, it appears your sister had the right of way and the wheelchair operator was at fault. Motorized wheelchairs are NOT motor vehicles and are no match for a motor vehicle. Use extra caution when operating a motorized wheelchair. Also, it would be a huge asset if many of us exercise extra caution while operating motor vehicles and be on the lookout for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorized wheelchairs on the roadway.
Leonard from Port Arthur asks: I recently navigated through a heavy rainstorm on my way to Houston on I-10 and was extremely frustrated that every car in every lane, regardless of speed, had on their flashing lights. I couldn’t tell who was stopped or stopping and who was just using flashers because it was raining. My recollection of driver’s training in another state (perhaps faulty) was hazard lights were only to be used when stopped. The Texas Driver Handbook just says they are used to “warn others the vehicle is a hazard.” Please clarify if I should be more patient with all the drivers using flashers in the rain.
Answer: In the weather condition you described, you and ALL other motorists should practice patience. During inclement weather, you will either practice patience or be forced to take patience. Meaning if the highway is crowded, you will just have to wait your time, whether you agree with the other motorists’ current driving behavior or not. There is no law that says you cannot activate your hazard lamps while pulled over on the side of the road. Keep in mind the use of hazard lamps are important to warn someone approaching from the rear and front to pay attention to a vehicle or alert motorists of an unsafe driving conditions. You are more that welcome to activate your hazard lamps if you are moving or parked.
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