ASK A COP — How close can tailgaters legally follow?

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Mike asks: During the traffic rush hour I experience a lot of tailgaters on the roadway. People are in such a hurry they literally get up on your bumper to cause to pull over. I am not frightened by this type of driver, but on the other hand, I do want to go home safely to my family. How close does the law in Texas say someone can travel behind another vehicle without breaking the law? How many feet or car lengths?

Answer: This is a huge problem. If you frequent many salvage yards, you will notice many vehicles with the front bumper or rear bumper damaged, all due to failure to control speed and following too closely. There is a two-second rule, not law that I like to apply. If you are traveling on a road where the speed limit is around 40 or lower, I apply the two-second rule, which means I will locate a fixed object and when the vehicle in front of me passes the object, I begin to count one thousand one, one thousand two. As the speed increases, of course the space in between you and the vehicle increases. Unfortunately the state of Texas doesn’t give a specific footage or vehicle lengths that one must travel behind another vehicle.

This is what the Texas Transportation Code has to say in regards to tailgaters. TRC Sec. 545.062. FOLLOWING DISTANCE. An operator shall, if following another vehicle, maintain an assured clear distance between the two vehicles so that, considering the speed of the vehicles, traffic, and the conditions of the highway, the operator can safely stop without colliding with the preceding vehicle or veering into another vehicle, object, or person on or near the highway I don’t recommend that you hold your position in your lane with the tailgater who wants to pass. When it is clear and you can safely do so, move out of the tailgater’s way. You are welcome to record the tailgater’s license plate number and report it to the police department that has jurisdiction.

Harry asks: I was convicted for a DWI 2 years ago, and I was wondering if I can carry a concealed weapon in my vehicle?

Answer: This is something that you should discuss with your probation officer regarding the stipulations of your probation. I must admit the state of Texas doesn’t prohibit you from carrying a CONCEALED weapon in your vehicle for a misdemeanor class A or B offense, as long as your charge wasn’t a FELONY DWI case. Keep in mind readers, if you have a concealed/open carry handgun license and are arrested for a class A or B misdemeanor, your concealed/open carry license will be revoked. You will not be eligible to apply for a concealed/open carry handgun license until five years after the date of your conviction of your DWI. The state may say “YES,” but your probation officer may say “NO!”

Roxanne asks: My vehicle didn’t come with a front license plate bracket, so I just put my front plate on the dashboard. My friend told me I’m supposed to have it on the front, but there isn’t anywhere to put it. I also have a lot of friends who display their sorority plates on the front of their vehicles instead of the state issued plate. Is this legal?

Answer: This is an issue that many people encounter. In the state of Texas, you are required to have a state issued license plate on the furthermost front and rear of your vehicle. The excuse that my vehicle didn’t come with a bracket is just that and EXCUSE! It is your responsibility to make your vehicle, “ROAD READY!” Now if your friends are operating a motor vehicle on a state of Texas roadway with a sorority front plate and there is not a state issued plate on the front of their vehicle, they are driving in violation. You can have a sorority plate, as long as your state of Texas issued plate is also and on the furthermost front of the vehicle and legible.

Join Me, Officer Rickey Antoine and the crew of 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 from 1 to 3 p.m. Tune in via the Internet at ksapthebreeze.org. Call in questions live at 409-982-0247. Email questions to rickey.antoine@portarthurtx.gov, call 409-983-8673 for voice mail or mail them to 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you happen to see me in public, you can always approach and “Ask A Cop!”