ASK A COP — Can you be fined/cited for an out headlight when you don’t know?

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Mary from Port Arthur asks: I’m having a discussion with my sister about lights on a vehicle. What does the law in Texas state about lights being out on your car and you are not aware the headlight is out? Can you get a ticket if you did not know a headlight is out in your car?

Answer: The Texas Transportation Code is unlike any of the other codes that govern the state of Texas. With the Texas Transportation Code, there’s no culpable mental state the officer has to prove the accused to be intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or was criminally negligent. With the Transportation Code in Texas, all the officers have to prove is that you did it, not that you meant to do the offense. So with that said, yes, you can legally be stopped and issued a citation by a police officer if you have a headlamp or any required light that is out on your vehicle without your knowledge. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure all inspected items are functioning correctly on said vehicle.

Yoyo from Nederland asks: I have a simple question for you regarding parking tags for disabled. I’ve always noticed there are two different colors for the handicap tags, blue and red. What is the difference between the blue and the red handicap tags?

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Answer: Yes, there is a distinct difference between the red and blue disabled parking placards. The blue disabled parking placards are for those with permanent disabilities, and they should be renewed every four years. The red disabled parking placard are for those with a temporary disability, valid for up to six months or whenever the disability no longer exists, whichever comes first. As a reminder, please do not display your placard on your rear view mirror until you are using it to verify your parking eligibility in disabled parking areas.

Cal from Port Neches asks: I am writing to find out the difference between a DWI and a DUI. I always hear about DWIs, which stands for Driving While Intoxicated, and DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. Are they the same thing, just said differently?

Answer: This is a question that’s oftentimes misunderstood, and that’s the difference between a DWI and DUI in Texas. First off, a DWI which stands for Driving While Intoxicated, refers to someone 21 years of age and greater, and a DUI which stands for Driving Under the Influence, includes all motorists who are under the age of 21 when charged. When a minor is charged with his/her first DUI under Texas law, if they have “any detectable amount of alcohol in his/her system” while operating a motor vehicle. Driving Under the Influence is considered a Class C offense in Texas. The first time you are stopped for drinking and driving under 21, you could face the following penalties: Up to a $500 fine, a 60-day Driver License suspension, 20 to 40 hours of community service or mandatory alcohol-awareness classes.

Now if you’re 17 years of age or older, and are pulled over for drinking and driving with a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater, you could face: Up to a $2,000 fine, 3 to 180 days in jail or a driver’s license suspension for 90 days to a year. Texas has zero tolerance on minors drinking while driving. Now, a DWI in Texas is when a person is legally intoxicated and may be arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) with a .08 BAC (blood or breath alcohol concentration). A person can also be intoxicated if impaired due to other drugs regardless of BAC. If convicted, they face a penalty of a fine of up to $2,000, 3 days to 180 days in jail, suspension of Driver License up to a year, and an annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 for three years to retain driver’s license.

Join Me, Officer Antoine and the CREW Stephen “Buzzard Boots” Mosley, Lelo “mouth of Hwy 69/73” I Washington & Tejas “Lil Man”Morning Star for Ask A Cop live on KSAP 96.9 FM The Breeze every Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. and beyond. Call in questions at 409-982-0247. You can also email questions to or leave a voicemail at 409-983-8673. 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!”