ASK A COP — Is a copy or proof of driver’s license OK when driving?
Published 12:02 am Tuesday, October 18, 2022
Dan from Beaumont asks: My wife has a bad habit of just taking her debit card and not her wallet or purse, because she’s been a victim of a stolen purse before. So she’s not comfortable with taking anything but her cash or debit card for purchases. She had her life in the stolen purse, and it took an act of Congress to replace all her identification information, like driver’s license, social security card, passport and several credit cards. My wife has a valid driver’s license. If she doesn’t bring it with her while operating a vehicle, will she be able to give law enforcement her name and law enforcement will be able to look it up? Is it illegal to not carry license even though we have it?
Answer: I’m sorry your wife was a victim to the theft of her purse. I think every reader can certainly sympathize. But in the state of Texas we must present our license upon demand from a law enforcement officer when we’re driving and stopped by a police officer. There’s a law in the Texas Transportation Code that states motorists must present the hard copy card of our driver’s license when demanded by police officer. I’ve met many motorists who want to produce a photo copy of their license, because they do NOT have the card for whatever reason, but this action is also illegal because a copy of your state-issued driver’s license is not a state of Texas-issued document. The best advice I can give you is to instruct your wife to take her driver’s license, as well as her credit card, because operating a motor vehicle in the state of Texas without the actual driver’s license card in her possession is ILLEGAL. Yes, law enforcement officers can look up the status of the driver’s license from a copy or picture but that doesn’t mean you won’t be issued a citation for such violation. Always carry your license and leave your social security card in a safe place at home.
Cal from Port Neches asks: My cousin has a car that he is making really cool changes to. One of the changes he has made was to smoke out his tail lights, and I kinda remember you mentioning that being NOT cool in my driver’s ed class. It’s been three years ago, so excuse me if I forgot, but because of your presentation and the impact it left on me, I haven’t been stopped by the police. He said he would change the tail light covers it they’re illegal. Is having smoked (dark) tail lights legal in Texas?
Answer: Buying a vehicle is one of the biggest material items we invest in. Most people after the purchase of said vehicle like to upgrade the appearance and place aftermarket items on the vehicle. According to federal regulations, the tail lights lens are the darkness they can legally be when the vehicle is rolled out of the factory brand new. The lights, front and rear, are made by the manufacturer to meet this safety standard. An alternate or additional material, particularly something dark, would impair its effectiveness. The problem doesn’t come when we install those illegal parts on our vehicle, but rather when we operate our vehicle with the aftermarket parts on the roads of Texas. Remember, your cousin is totally fine to smoke out his tail lights, as long as he doesn’t operate that vehicle on the roads of Texas. Any device that impairs the required effectiveness of headlamps, tail lamps, reflectors, etc. is prohibited
Harvey from Port Arthur asks: You have advised to use hazard lights if driving below the speed limit in bad weather. I recently navigated through a heavy rainstorm and was extremely frustrated that every car in every lane, regardless of speed, had on their flashing lights (I was not). 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) is 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, but I still think it makes it more difficult to tell who is actually stopped if visibility is poor.
Answer: With cooler weather temperatures approaching we can surely expect to experience inclement weather. 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 roadway is crowded, you will just have to wait your time, whether you agree with the other motorists’ current driving behaviors or not! There is no law that says you can or cannot activate your hazard lamps while pulled over on the side of the road. Keep in mind it’s important to warn someone approaching from the rear and front to pay attention to my vehicle. You are more that welcome to activate your hazard lamps if you are moving or stopped.
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