ASK A COP — Are seat belts required on private property?

Published 12:16 am Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Anne from Port Arthur asks: The other day I came in contact with you in a Walmart parking lot, and my heart almost dropped in my shoes because me nor my two kids were secured in our seats with safety belts. To my surprise, you didn’t mention the lack of belt usage, although I’m certain you saw we were unbuckled. Thanks for showing mercy on this occasion, and I’m not going to press my luck next time. Buckling up all the time now!

Answer: There’s nothing a police officer can do about occupants in a motor vehicle being unbuckled in a seat safety system on private property. There’s no law in the state of Texas Transportation Code that requires motorists wear their seatbelts on private property. I can assure you that I didn’t address the lack of seat restraints in your vehicle because it wasn’t ILLEGAL.

Officer Rickey Antoine

Davis from Port Arthur asks: I was recently involved in a accident, and my driver and passenger air bags were activated. Am I still allowed to drive my vehicle even though my bags are hanging out of the steering wheel and passenger dashboard? It’s my only vehicle and I don’t have any other means for transportation to get to work. I only have liability insurance, so my insurance company will not repair my vehicle. According to my checking account, neither can I. Can I operate my vehicle legally without working airbags?

Answer: I’m sorry for your recent unfortunate crash/accident. As we all know, crashes don’t only have not physical injuries, but financial burdens attached along with them as well. That’s why it is always a smart and responsible, LEGAL decision to have at least the state minimum liability insurance coverage on ANY automobile on the roads of Texas. Because most motorists can’t afford to fix someone’s vehicle and their own vehicle in the unfortunate event of a crash. Airbags are NOT an annually inspected item in the state of Texas, so in my opinion, YES, you can operate your vehicle in the state of Texas as long as the HORN still works. Insurance companies may have an issue with the airbags deployment, but in your case you only have liability so it probably wouldn’t matter. I’d say you’re good to go legally if your horn and all of the lights are functioning properly. Also I would advise you to check with your insurance agent to assure there’s no problem there.

Patricia from Port Arthur asks: If I’m driving down the highway and there’s a person weaving in and out of traffic, almost causing other motorists to run off the road to avoid a collision, should I call the police regular line or 911?

Answer: I do understand you asked this question because you don’t want to tie up the 911 emergency line with your call. But the scene you just described is an EMERGENCY. We need you and all motorists to be good witnesses and eyes for law enforcement officers to address this aggressive driving behavior. Police officers are not everywhere, but citizens like you are everywhere, and we need and depend on citizens to report any driving behavior that is unsafe and life-threatening. We have more people hurt and killed every year in Port Arthur by drivers not paying attention behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, than violent crimes committed by gangsters, robbers and thieves. So next time you see someone driving in such a erratic manner that they are a danger to others and themselves, please pick up the phone, dial 9-1-1 and give a detailed description of the vehicle, location and direction of travel to the dispatcher.

Join Me, Officer Rickey Antoine and the CREW Stephen “Buzzard Boots” Mosley, Lelo “mouth of Hwy 69/73” Washington & Tejas “Lil Man”Moorin Star for Ask A Cop live, on KSAP 96.9 FM The Breeze radio station, every Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. as Officer Antoine discusses the “Ask A Cop” article. Tune in via internet at ksapthebreeze.org or call in a question live at 409-982-0247. Make a comment via TEXT at 409-748-6106. Remember to email questions to rickey.antoine@portarthurtx.gov, call 409-983-8673 for 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!”