ASK A COP — Can you turn your brights on to let someone know to turn there’s off?

Published 1:41 pm Monday, February 28, 2022

Bonnin from Port Arthur asks: I need some help on the bright lights on vehicles today. Sometimes it’s hard to tell with the newer vehicles, especially trucks, whether they are driving with bright lights or not. It seems every time I’m on the road, someone has bright lights on heading my direction. Anyone would agree this is very uncomfortable while driving a motor vehicle, having bright lights glaring in your eyes giving a blinding effect! Is it permissible to turn on my brights until the approaching vehicle dims their lights?

Answer: The state of Texas Transportation Code requires ALL motorist who have activated their high beams to deactivate them when they are within 500 feet(1.5 city blocks) of an approaching vehicle and 300 feet (1 city block) when you are behind a vehicle traveling the same direction. I understand the hazard another vehicle may present approaching with their high beams on, but you putting the high beams on them causes both vehicles to be in violation of state law. Most motorists give a temporary flash of the high beams, alerting the approaching motorist their high beams are on. As with ANY law, you CANNOT and should NOT attempt make a motorist obey the law. Activating your high beams on the other driver until they turn theirs off is not safe driving behavior.

Officer Rickey Antoine

Arthur from Nederland asks: My wife and I are debating if it’s illegal to operate a vehicle with a burned out light bulb? I know many readers will say, of course it is. What if I inspected my vehicle lights before beginning to my destination and the bulb went out without me knowing it went out. Can I still be given a ticket and I didn’t even know the bulb was out? Does it make a difference if I knew the bulb was out or not to ticket a driver? Please help me prove my wife wrong (LOL).

Answer: The Texas Transportation Code is much different than ANY other Code in Texas. With the Texas Transportation Code, culpable mental state is not applicable, meaning we don’t have to show your intent was to speed, or that you intentionally drove a vehicle with a bulb blown out….JUST THAT YOU OPERATED A VEHICLE IN VIOLATION! Law enforcement officers hear all the time from motorists, “Officer I didn’t mean to, I didn’t know, I wasn’t aware, I wasn’t trying to,” and none of these statements release you from the liability for a violation of the Texas Transportation Code. All the officer has to prove is you did the violation, not that you intended to commit the violation. If I were you, I’d go invest in a pair of ear plugs. Hey Arthur, flowers and a nice dinner wouldn’t hurt either (smile)!

Alford from Port Arthur Asks: The other day I was in the car and my wife was driving, and as we were approaching an intersection in Baytown, we quickly realized something was different. ALL the lights were out. What are we supposed to do when lights are out at an intersection? This was very scary.

Answer: The first thing I can say, Alford, is PRAY!! In the perfect world, all lights will be functioning at every intersection, but there are those times when we experience a power outage. In the event you approach an intersection where the traffic signal lights are out, you should treat that area as if there were stop signs. This is why it’s important not to be on your cellphone while driving, because motorists say when the light is working “I didn’t see a red light.” So you will definitely not see the intersection if your head is down dealing with your cellphone. In Port Arhur, a police officer would be dispatched quickly to the intersection until the city was able to erect temporary stop signs and repair the traffic lights. Just remember, when all lights are out at an intersection, the intersection becomes stop signs.

Join Me, Officer Rickey Antoine and the CREW: Stephen Buzzard Boots Mosley, Lelo mouth of Hwy 69/73 Washington and Tejas Lil Man Morning Star for Ask A Cop live,on KSAP 96.9 FM The Breeze every Tuesday from 1 to 2:30 p.m. as they discuss the “Ask A Cop” column. Call in your question live at 409-982-0247 or make a text comment at 409-748-6106. Email your questions to rickey.antoine@portarthurtx.gov, call 409-983-8673 and leave a voice mail or mail them to: Ofc. Rickey Antoine, 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you happen to see me in public, you can always approach and “Ask A Cop!”