ASK A COP — Can a driver speed to the hospital during a medical emergency?
Published 12:06 am Tuesday, June 20, 2023
Victor from Orange asks: If I have a family member or friend who’s having a medical emergency while I am driving, can I rush them to the hospital by turning on my emergency flashers and speed over the posted speed limit without breaking the law?
Answer: This is a question that keeps motorists puzzled because the Texas Transportation Code doesn’t give consent for any motorist other than drivers of emergency vehicles/physicians responding to emergency to travel any speed above the posted speed limit. You DO NOT have permission to drive someone to the hospital that’s having an emergency episode above the posted speed limit. With that said, “do what you have to do as long as it can be done safely” explanation for the violation can be given later when it comes to a life-or-death situation. The emergency flashers you reference are hazard lamps and are to be activated when traveling much slower, NOT faster than the flow of traffic. The Texas Transportation Code states in Section 545.365 – Speed Limit Exception for Emergencies; Municipal Regulation (a) The regulation of the speed of a vehicle under this subchapter does not apply to: (1) an authorized emergency vehicle responding to a call; (2) a police patrol; or (3) a physician or ambulance responding to an emergency call.
Troy from Nederland asks: I was in a parking lot that made me want to write someone a ticket and I don’t even have a ticket book. Just the other day I saw a vehicle driving slowly through the parking lot with I guesstimate a 2-year-old standing on his lap, with the steering wheel in the toddler’s hand, pretending to be driving. Isn’t this like child abuse? What’s the fine for someone doing this? Can someone get a ticket for allowing a child to stand on their lap while a vehicle is in motion in a parking lot?
Answer: Sounds like you missed or haven’t taken advantage of your calling in law enforcement. The act of allowing a toddler to stand on driver’s lap in a motor vehicle pretending to drive on private property is NOT a crime in Texas. Remember, we don’t regulate private property laws, other than Fire lane, Disabled Parking and Driving While Intoxicated. It may look horrible or careless to see a toddler on the lap of a driver, but on private property this is NOT illegal. I won’t say this act is child abuse, but we may be able to make a case of child endangerment depending on the circumstances. If this same act was performed on the roadway, this careless act instantly becomes ILLEGAL.
Laura from Port Arthur asks: I’m having a debate with my husband about a traffic question. If someone is caught going over 25 miles of the posted speed limit, is this violation an automatic arrest? I’ve been told you will automatically be arrested if you are caught going 25 miles per hour over posted the speed limit in Texas. Of course my hubby disagrees. A home cooked dinner is pending on the answer.
Answer: In Texas, a driver can NOT be arrested for the charge of SPEEDING, no matter what speeds they are accused of driving. I know that sounds weird, but Texas law is Texas law. It sounds like you need to strap on your apron and get your menu ready to cook for your husband, because he was right. However, with that said, a driver can be arrested for reckless driving, which is a higher charge than speeding. The Texas Transportation Code defines reckless driving broadly as operating a vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Reckless driving is a traffic misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $200. Now, here’s the twist, if an officer believes you are reckless for going 25 mph over the speed limit, then “YES,” you can be arrested for reckless driving, not speeding.
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