Get Over, Slow Down, Or Else!
Date Added: Jan. 14, 2004
With ever-increasing traffic, the safety of the men and women charged with ensuring our safety has become a priority for public administrators. The length to which some of these measures have gone have taken some by surprise, as we see in this anonymous account.
Texas Law This is not a joke please read!!
All, Let my misfortune be a lesson for you. This is a long story, but a must read. This really happened to me yesterday (12/10/03). Yesterday, I was driving into town along the Southwest Freeway around 12:30 PM. I was in the far left lane doing the posted speed limit of 65 and going with the flow of traffic. When I got over the Bissonnett/Braeswood overpass, there was an HPD squad car parked on the left shoulder with the officer standing out in front of his vehicle pointing his radar gun at oncoming cars. Your inclination automatically tells you to slow down, whether you were speeding or not.
Not a 1/2 mile down the freeway, there was another HPD officer that had someone pulled over on the left shoulder giving the person a ticket. I thought, man this was an obvious speed trap and kept on going. I had slowed down to around 60 at that point as now the posted speed limit was 60.
About a mile up the road, around Gessner, another HPD officer had someone else pulled over to give them a ticket and literally in front of that traffic stop was another HPD officer (yes we are up to 4 cop cars now in about a mile) walking around to the front of his car. Just as I was approaching him, he pointed his radar gun at me and signaled for me to pull over. I was shocked, because I know that I was going the posted speed limit (60) as I immediately looked at my speedometer.
The officer came to my window and said "do you know how fast you were going?" I said yes, I was going 60. He said "you were doing 58" and he showed me his radar gun, which read 58. I said okay. He said "you failed to slow your speed down by 20 MPH or move over to the adjacent lane when an emergency vehicle was stopped in the flow of traffic." I said, I did not know that was a law (of course that is never a defense) and he said it was and asked for my license. I offered that and my concealed handgun license to him (as I am required by law, being a CHL carrier), as well as the knowledge that I was carrying my pistol under the rear passenger seat. The officer wrote me a ticket that carries a $200 maximum fine for this infraction.
Come to find out, this is a new state law as of September 1, 2003. From the TX DPS website, the law reads:
SB 193 requires drivers nearing a stopped emergency vehicle that has lights activated, unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer, to: Vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle, if the highway has two or more lanes traveling the direction of the emergency vehicle; or
Slow to a speed not more than 20 miles per hour (mph) less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 mph or more; or Slow to a speed not more than five mph when the posted speed limit is less than 25 mph. A violation is a punishable by a maximum fine of $200. If the violation results in property damage, the maximum fine increases to $500. If the violation results in bodily injury, the offense is enhanced to a Class B misdemeanor. Yes, I got a ticket for going less than the posted speed limit for this total.
PASS THIS TO ALL YOUR ONLINE FRIENDS IN TEXAS!
Texas Senate Bill 193 went into effect September 1, 2003 and was designed to protect law enforcement, fire and emergency medical personnel. The description of the law given near the end of the chain letter above is accurate and appears to have been pulled from the Texas Department of Public Safety's web site.
Several states have similar laws in place to protect emergency personnel. Some states launched a statewide awareness campaign, others erected signs on major roadways alerting motorists to the new restriction. Texas has particularly drawn criticism because of how little publicity the new law was given. Many motorists were caught off guard when they received their fine, which can run from $100 to $500.
Garnering particular criticism was an effort in late December 2003 and early January 2004 by the Houston Police Department. The account given in the chain letter above appears to have been authored by one of the dozens of Texas motorists who were surprised by the sting-like enforcement effort. Senior Texas Trooper Garry Parker told KXAN-TV that the law will be enforced, but never again through the speed trap tactics seen in Houston.
BreakTheChain.org recommends against relying upon or distributing information via e-mail chain letters. The account above was likely intended only for a small circle of the author's close contacts, thus any identifying and/or validating information was omitted, since the target audience would have already known it. I have already begun to see variations in this one that include unverified comments, additional and unrelated factoids and attempts at attribution that are more likely instances of False Attribution Syndrome. Break this chain.
References: Texas Department of Public Safety, KXAN-TV