ASK A COP — What age can a child ride in the front seat? 

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Dee asks: I kept my granddaughter over the Christmas holiday, and my heart was just filled with joy. I can’t describe the love I have for my 4-year-old granddaughter. The problem I have is my husband and I are empty nesters, and I’ve since downsized my vehicle to a coupe that has virtually no room in the back. So I had to let her ride in the front with Me-Maw. I wasn’t comfortable with letting her ride up front. What’s the age someone can let a child ride in the front seat?

Answer: Many grandparents are gladly given the tasks of keeping their grandchildren during the holiday or summer vacation, and they now must transform their homes to be toddler proof and their vehicles to transport toddlers. There is no specific age when a child should or shouldn’t ride in the front seat of a vehicle in Texas. What’s important is you have your child in the correct seat for the child’s age/weight and age/height. You can allow a child to sit in any seat position you choose other than your driver’s seat as long as they are in the correct seat and properly secured.

Riley asks: My friend has a vehicle and the headlights don’t work. He only drives in the daytime because his lights don’t come on at night. Is it OK for him to drive his car in the daytime only, since there’s no need for his lights?

Answer: That vehicle should not be driven on the roads of Texas until the necessary repairs are made to the headlamps. It seems to be an easy fix to refrain from driving at night because other than the headlamps, everything on the vehicle is operating correctly. But your friend is in violation of Texas Transportation Code if he only drives in the daytime. Headlamps are a state-inspected item, and therefore should not be taken lightheartedly. Consider this, your friend cannot assure himself that darkness will not catch him away from home, because an unexpected weather event can occur.

Lisa asks: I think an equal danger on the roads are drivers who allow their dogs to be all over their body while driving, mostly having their head and legs out of the driver’s window. I’m not an animal hater. I have two wonderful fur friends, but they’re not allowed to be on me while driving. Is having a dog all over the driver a distraction and is this legal, or why isn’t this illegal?

Answer: Dogs in the lap of motorists while they’re operating a motor vehicle is definitely a distraction. Keep in mind laws are made only after something happens, so in the state of Texas I thank God nothing monumental has occurred to someone because a dog was sitting on the driver’s lap. Therefore there’s no such law in Texas that requires a dog to wear a seatbelt or be restrained in a crate while a motor vehicle is being driven. Only Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have laws that enforce the safe crating or restraining of a dog while being transported in a motor vehicle. I must say I’m not a hater of our furry friends, but I like you have trained my dogs to sit down while in a motor vehicle. Let’s hope we NEVER have to make this a law in Texas.

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!”