ASK A COP — How do we legally pass stopped emergency vehicles on the roadway?

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, May 15, 2024

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Max asks: Can you explain the passing of a stopped emergency vehicle law again? I was trying to explain it to a friend and I couldn’t remember all the vehicles it referred to and the speed to reduce the vehicle when passing such vehicles.

Answer: The state of Texas is very serious when it come to violators passing a stopped emergency vehicle with it emergency lights activated. The state of Texas Transportation Code 545.157 states when passing next to a stopped emergency vehicle with its emergency lights activated, an operator of a vehicle MUST decrease its speed at least 20 mph below the posted speed limit, meaning if the posted speed limit is 40 mph, if you pass next to the stopped emergency vehicle with its emergency lights activated, you can NOT pass that emergency vehicle at greater than 20 mph (which is 20mph below speed limit)! Or you can move over and give an empty lane between your vehicle and the stopped emergency vehicle with its emergency lights activated and continue speeds up to the posted speed limit. This law is in effect when speeds are posted 25 mph or greater. The vehicles the state of Texas refers to as emergency vehicles are police vehicles, fire department units, ambulance vehicles, tow trucks and TXDOT, which are department of transportation vehicles. Please pay attention. Know the speed limit, because with this law, it’s not about you exceeding the posted speed limit. It’s the fact you failed to reduce your speed while passing a stopped emergency vehicle with its emergency lights activated.

Carlos asks: I own two vehicles, a work vehicle that I drive the most and a luxury vehicle when it’s time to play (if you get my drift). My work vehicle had a broken headlight. Because I work six days a week, it’s been nearly impossible to get it in the shop to be repaired. I have one light that’s out on the driver’s side, so I only drive the vehicle when headlights aren’t required, like during daytime. Is it illegal to drive my vehicle knowing my headlight doesn’t work, even if I’m not going to turn the light on?

Answer: We ALL must be in compliance with the state of Texas Transportation Code. You’re dealing with a violation that is mostly self-compliant, meaning normally nobody will know you’re operating a vehicle with defective lamps but you. Yes, it is illegal to operate a vehicle on the roadway of Texas with defective headlamps, even during the daytime when the lamps are not required. You happen have a simple solution, and that’s to pull out your luxury boy toy until you get your headlamp issue on your work vehicle resolved. You never know, especially given the unpredictable weather in Southeast Texas, when headlamps will be required during the daytime hours.

Ken asks: I recently took off a tinted license from the front of my vehicle. The back plate did not have a tinted license plate cover. Are tinted license plate covers illegal, or did I overreact by removing my plate?

Answer: You were correct in removing the tinted license plate cover, because in Texas, tinted license plate covers should not be placed on any vehicles that are on the roadways. You can purchase clear license plate covers and legally install them on vehicles, but one that is tinted that may distort the lettering and numbers on the license plate is difficult to read and should be avoided. Tinted license plate covers are illegal.

Join Me, Officer 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 every Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. You can also tune in via Call in live at 409-982-0247. Email questions to, call 409-983-8673 or mail them to: Ofc. Rickey Antoine, 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you see me in public, you are always free and comfortable to approach and “Ask A Cop!”