ASK A COP — Can a wrecked car that runs be legally driven?

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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Kevin asks: I saw a car that was apparently rear ended. I didn’t think the vehicle should be allowed to still be on the road, but I’m not the police! They wrapped what looked like clear baking wrap around the trunk and lights of the car. I know everybody needs their transportation, but my mouth was open in disbelief at the sight of the condition of this vehicle on the roadway. Is it legal to drive a vehicle on the roadway in a wrecked condition as long as it still runs?

Answer: We all know how important motor vehicle transportation is to our community. I don’t doubt your description of the vehicle one bit. The one question you must always ask yourself when you are in question about if a vehicle is legally able to be driven on the roads of Texas, is will this vehicle be able to pass the state inspection in that current condition? From what you described, this vehicle will NOT be able to pass state inspection. Keep in mind just because a motor runs doesn’t necessarily mean it is road-approved by the state of Texas. If that’s the case, then this vehicle is being operated illegally on the roads of Texas and should be parked until the necessary repairs are made.

Rebecca asks: I really dislike the cold frigid temperatures we’ve experienced lately. I understand we in the winter season, where fog and mist forms overnight. I don’t have a garage to keep my vehicle windows clear, but I do love getting into a car that’s WARM. Since we shouldn’t drive if we can’t see, can I start my vehicle and stay inside my home until the inside interior of my vehicle thaws out? I love entering a vehicle that’s nice and toasty inside.

Answer: I know many of us can remember, when we were younger, our Mom and Dad going outside to warm up the car. Those days are long gone. I don’t like getting into a vehicle that feels like you are still outside in the cold, but we are law-abiding citizens, and in Texas there is a law about leaving our vehicle unattended, even if your only intent is to warm it up before you leave. Guess who else loves for motorists to warm up their cars before entering them — CAR THIEVES! This time of year is a favorite for thieves because the guessing game is gone as to whether your vehicle is on. They can clearly see the white exhaust smoke puffing out of the tail pipe. Another point is you only need to allow the motor oil to circulate throughout the engine, which will take the maximum of approximately 25 seconds. Afterward, there is no real benefit of your vehicle being idle. Your vehicle will heat up faster moving than idling. You are allowed to start your vehicle and leave it running on private property. The state of Texas even allows vehicle operators who have remote start to leave their car running and unattended on the roadway as long as they have the key in their possession while away from the vehicle.

Joan asks: My husband and I were at H-E-B during the Christmas holiday shopping, and he almost had three accidents with people backing out of their parking spots. If an accident would have occurred, who would have been at fault — the vehicle backing up or the one moving in the lane?

Answer: I truly understand how crowded congested parking areas can be during holiday season. I don’t always possess the patience to deal with the crowd, so I normally turn around and try another time. It sounds like you’ve tapped in on the continual battle of which is better, backing into a parking space vs. pulling into a parking space. Studies have shown tat backing into a parking space is much safer than pulling into a space. The mass majority of crashes (accidents/wrecks) occur when someone is backing out of a parking space. I can just imagine what your husband experienced in a congested parking area, when people are in a rushed state of mind. Pulling out of spaces gives you the best view of pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Police departments in Texas don’t generally investigate private property crashes, but the fault vehicle would normally the vehicle backing out of a parking space where a crash occurred.

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 Call in questions live at 409-982-0247. Email questions to, 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!”