ASK A COP — New laws drivers in Texas should know

Published 9:59 am Tuesday, September 5, 2023

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There are a few laws relating to the Texas Department Transportation Code, where close to 800 new laws in Texas went into effect on Sept. 1. Here are a few important ones.

House Bill 898: Increased fines for drivers who fail to move over leaving a empty lane between you and stopped emergency vehicles or slow down 20 mph below the posted speed limit if you pass next to stopped emergency vehicles with lights activated. Fine increased on first offense between $500 – $1250. If someone is injured because of your violation, you could be charged with a class A misdemeanor punishable up to 1 year in jail and a $400 fine.

Senate Bill 1551: Failure to identify for drivers of motor vehicle is now a criminal offense. That means if a driver fails to provide police a driver license or fails to provide their name, date of birth and address to an officer, he or she could be charged with a class C or B misdemeanor.

House Bill 1551: Bentley law for drunk drivers allows child maintenance payments be made for surviving children who’s parents or guardians were victims of a drunk driver who are found guilty intoxication manslaughter. Payments would begin year after the release from incarceration and remain until surviving children turn 18.

House Bill 2899: Illegal Street Racing in Texas now allows for the impoundment of vehicles involved. The law removes the requirements that property damage or bodily injury had to result for a vehicles suspected of street racing.

Senate Bill 505: make owner of electric vehicle pay an additional $200 fee when registering vehicle or renewing registration. The fee is doubled for those registering new vehicles since they will have to pay two years worth

House Bill 1885: Speed Limit change allows Texas Department of Transportation to change speed limit on roads and highways during inclement weather or construction zones. This bill was made in response to a deadly 133-vehicle pileup in Fort Worth Interstate 35 in February 2021.

Dianne asks: I pray daily for you and all of our police officers’ protection. I know y’all have a dangerous job to look over the safety and welfare of all citizens, not only in your local community, but the entire state of Texas. I have a parking problem on my street every day. When I attempt to back out of my driveway, there’s a vehicle parked across the street directly behind my driveway. I’ve spoken with a neighbor about the parking. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble because they have parked badly. What can be done and what violation is this?

Officer Rickey Antoine

Answer: Parking problems are a constant issue, and your dilemma, as well as many others, should be addressed. I must advise that your neighbors didn’t do anything wrong when parking on the other side of the road behind your driveway. I understand the stress and difficulty it may require to be careful exiting your driveway, but the law doesn’t require motorists to park any different. Your best conclusion would be to continue to speak with your neighbors, not demanding, but you would appreciate if they don’t park there because you don’t want to damage anyone’s vehicle. Keep in mind Dianne, if you back into one of those vehicles, you can be cited for unsafe backing. With that said, don’t back out if it can’t be done so safely.

Galvin asks I am a supporter of law enforcement officers, but my recent encounter with a police officer has me scratching my head. I was stopped the other day (hold on to your seat) for a license plate light being out. I was taken back when I heard the reason for me being pulled over. Ain’t this stretching the arm of the law? What is the law on license lights in Texas?

Answer: Don’t feel like a stranger because most motorists never think about their license plate light until they get pulled over for it. Every reader should pause right now and truthfully think back to the last time they checked to see if their vehicle license light was properly functioning. It is your, my and every motorists’ responsibility to regularly inspect vehicles to assure we are in compliance with the state of Texas Transportation Code. Too often we simply jump in our vehicles without ever inspecting our vehicles. Even if you have a functioning light bulb to illuminate your plate, it may still not be enough to save you from getting pulled over. The Texas Transportation Code states the rear license plate must be illuminated by a white light that “makes the plate clearly legible at a distance of 50 feet from the rear.” If a police officer cannot see your license plate “clearly” from 50 feet away, you are in violation of the statute and at risk of being pulled over. This goes for plates that are damaged to the point that the lettering is no longer legible.

Join Me, Officer Rickey Antoine and the CREW, 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 for at least two hours from 1 to 3 p.m. You can also tune in at Call in and ask your question live at 409-982-0247. Feel free to email questions to, call 409-983-8673 and leave a voicemail question 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 feel comfortable to approach and “Ask A Cop!”