ASK A COP — Who gets ticket when passenger found with alcohol?

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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Toni from Port Arthur asks: Let’s say I’m driving my vehicle and my friend, who’s in the passenger seat, has a yeti cooler type of cup that you can’t see the beverage inside. If we are stopped by the police, and the police determine the liquid inside of the cup is alcohol, who would get in trouble? Would it be my passenger or me who’s driving the vehicle? If a friend was coming to my car with a can or bottle of alcoholic beverage, I would definitely stop that, but because it is poured in the yeti type cup, I’m not to the point where I’m going to ask what’s in the cup. Who would get the ticket or get arrested?

Answer: In the State of Texas, open containers of alcohol are illegal. Whether it’s the passenger or the driver of a motor vehicle, we cannot possess an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. No matter if it’s disguised by being poured into a cup or still in this original container. In your case, the driver, who would be you, was not in possession of an open container but the passenger was. So the passenger would be the one who receives the citation by the police officer. The passenger cannot be arrested, because the open container law is one of the two laws that you cannot be arrested for in the transportation code in State of Texas. So the police officer has to remove the alcoholic beverage from the vehicle and issue the PASSENGER NOT DRIVER citation.

Ana from Orange asks: I work in the city, which means I drive here almost daily. My question is I have a pick-up truck that I have a bumper pull trailer and I have oftentimes left my trailer tailgate open as I’m traveling. I don’t have any loads on the back of my truck, but I just like it to stay down because I believe it gives me better gas mileage. Is it illegal for me to drive down the road with my tailgate open? I have a coworker who told me it was illegal, so I need to know because I don’t want to break the law.

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Answer: Believe it or not, this is a question I get regularly. In the State of Texas, there’s no such law in the Transportation Code that states if you drive with your tailgate down, it is illegal. There may be some cities that adopted an ordinance making it illegal to drive a truck with the tailgate down. You need to check with your local law enforcement or city ordinance to see if driving with tailgate down has been addressed.

Keal from Nederland asks: I liked your information about the red-and-blue handicap parking placards. I’ve always seen the two but had no idea why the different colors. My grandpa passed away a couple months ago and he has a blue placard that he just threw on the dashboard of his truck, and that’s where it remains even today. Is this legal? What should we do with his blue placard?

Answer: So sorry to hear your Grandpa passed. This is something many people encounter, a loved one passing away who was issued a disabled parking placard by the State of Texas. First off, one thing you definitely don’t do is continue to use the placard. Any family member who experienced the passing of a loved one who has a placard should return the placard to their respective county tax office. Do NOT continue to use the placard because you can receive a violation if found guilty for using a placard that wasn’t issued to you. This is punishable by fines ranging from $250 to $1,000 and between 10 and 50 hours of community service.

Join Me, Officer Rickey Antoine and the crew of Stephen “Buzzard Boots” Mosley, Lelo “mouth of Hwy 69/73” I. Washington and Tejas “Lil Man” Morning Star for Ask A Cop live on KSAP 96.9 FM, The Breeze radio station every Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. Tune in via the Internet at Call in questions live at 409-982-0247. Email questions to, call 409-983-8673 for voice mail or mail them to 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you happen to see me in public, you can always approach and “Ask A Cop!”