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ASK A COP: Chief Duriso shares his stance on red light cameras in Port Arthur

From the desk of Chief Tim Duriso: Officer Antoine stated last week in “Ask A Cop” that he wasn’t sure what my stance on red light cameras were in the city of Port Arthur.

I’d like to take a moment and make it crystal clear that I’m 100 percent against the usage of red light cameras in the city of Port Arthur or anywhere in the state of Texas. Because on June 1, 2019, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1631 into law, prohibiting cities from operating photographic traffic camera systems that catch citizens speeding or running red lights and issuing them fines.

Red light cameras are ILLEGAL, so don’t worry, the cameras that are at intersections are not for enforcement!

 

Judy from Houston asks: I was born and raised in Port Arthur and later moved to Houston, but I still love and keep with my hometown. I was stopped recently and the police officer said I was speeding. I wasn’t familiar with the area, but I didn’t think I was speeding. So he wrote me a ticket that said I was going 49 mph in a 30 mph zone. I didn’t agree with him so I refused to sign it, and he told me if I didn’t I was going to jail. How rude could he have been to threaten to take me to jail just for speeding, and to add insult to injury, I look up and three more squad cars had arrived to my car. I’m just a woman. Was all of that necessary? Is it legal for the officer to threaten to take me to jail if I didn’t sign the ticket or was that a scare tactic that you police officers use?

 

Answer: Judy, I’m sorry for the encounter you had with the police officer, but I must inform you, all of your troubles were self-inflicted. Here’s what I mean, first, you were stopped because you probably were unknowingly speeding. I say that because you admitted you were unfamiliar to the area, and speeding is a common mishap when unfamiliar to an area. The second reason is because you refused to sign the citation that was presented to you by a Texas police officer. In Texas, when a police officer decides to issue you a citation for a violation he/she’s accusing you of, “YOU MUST SIGN THE TICKET OR GO TO JAIL!” There’s no other option or choice we have. In your case, you didn’t agree with the officer’s accusation, but when you sign a citation in Texas, it is not an agreement to a charge, rather a “PROMISE TO APPEAR!” I hope you and other readers spread the word that the accused must sign the citation or be arrested in the great state of Texas.

 

Mike from Bridge City asks: I thought Texas had a no-texting law in place that prohibits drivers of these cars from texting while behind the wheel. It seems like every day, especially at red lights, people’s heads are buried in those darn phones. It’s almost like Texas doesn’t have a law addressing such behavior. In my opinion, texting and driving is out of control. Can Texas install cameras at red lights to catch these drivers messing with their cellphones while stopped at the light?

 

Answer: I can understand your frustration about drivers’ inattentiveness behind the wheel on the roads of Texas. Distracted driving is no joke, and every lawmaker and law enforcement agency across the state of Texas should make every effort to address this issue. The safety of all motorists on our roadway is paramount, and adding the cellphone distractions only compromises our safety goal. But, Mike, I believe you are lacking understanding about the Texas Texting law. While you are correct, texting while driving is a violation in Texas, the same law allows for motorists to text at red lights while the vehicle is not in motion. I’m not in agreement with the allowance of texting while the vehicle is on a roadway, but I only enforce laws. The next time you’re at a traffic signal and look over and someone has their head buried in their cellphone, remember they’re NOT breaking the texting law in Texas.

 

Jerry from Nederland asks: The other day I found myself on Twin City Highway behind a lady in a big truck that was driving in the inside lane with her turn signal on to change lanes. Well, her signal stayed on from 39th Street to Gulfway. I can’t confirm beyond that because I turned off at Gulfway. She never changed lanes, and I was furious behind her, waiting like a dummy for this woman to change lanes. I looked and looked for a policeman, but none was found in that area. Exactly how far can someone drive in a truck with their blinker on and not change lanes?

 

Answer: Even if I was right behind her, there wasn’t much I could do because it is NOT illegal to drive with the turn indicator on continuously and not turn or change lanes. The Texas Transportation Code says a motorist must signal at least 100 feet before turning. The Code doesn’t address the maximum a signal can be on. If you are going to change lanes you must first signal and wait until it’s safe for such movement. There are approximately 2 million crashes accounted for annually in this country because someone failed to properly use or failed to use their turn signals, and over half of motorists surveyed admitted not using their turn signal. It’s not like your turn indicator runs out of fluid!

 

Join Officer Rickey Antoine for “Ask A Cop” live on KSAP 96.9 FM every Tuesday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Tune in via the internet at ksapthebreeze.org or call 409-982-0247. Remember to email your questions to Rickey.Antoine@portarthurtx.gov, 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 “Ask A Cop!”