More Texan Tyranny: Out-of-Staters Beware

I hate Texas t-shirtWhile we’ve been whining and moaning about Texas officials preemptively arresting drunk drivers, Stranger provides an additional strange story from the Lone Star State. In addition to arresting people for drinking in bars, they are also pulling people over for driving on streets — those with out-of-state tags, at least.

This past Thursday I was running some errands in preparation for a weekend trip to San Marcos and Austin. As I was driving down a local road (at the speed limit, I might add), I watched in my rear-view mirror as a squad car flipped a U-turn a few blocks behind me and proceeded to speed up the road, weaving lanes, with his lights on. I moved to the right to get out of his way, but I knew he was coming for me. Sure enough… he was.

So I calmly give the guy my license and registration and wait for him to return and tell me what horrible crime I’ve committed. A few minutes later, he’s back at my window, with the explanation, “It was because I didn’t see any Texas tags on your car.” He went on to explain that he checked my registration, everything was fine, and then let me go on my merry way.

Excuse me? I got pulled over because I don’t have Texas license plates? Since when does that constitute just cause to stop someone on the road?

Don’t get me wrong, the officer was friendly and polite, and probably doing what he’s been told to do. But since when do out-of-state tags justify pulling someone over? Aren’t there laws about that? Oh yeah, wait, Texas is outside of the realm of “just cause” and other Constitutional protections!

I live in Alabama, the land of Roy “Ten Commandments” Moore, so I understand why we are the butt of many jokes about being a backwards state. We have dry counties, Democrats opposing gay rights, Republicans who try to raise taxes in the name of Jesus, and the distribution of sex toys is illegal here. I understand (have not confirmed) that the possession of more than six sex toys in Texas is considered intent to distribute, though. In Alabama, we don’t typically arrest people for being from out of state (except in certain counties — where the combination of being black and having out-of-state tags is probable cause for whatever Officer Billy Bob dreams up). Even in Alabama, the cops don’t bust people for drinking beer in a hotel bar in the counties where drinking is legal — and I’ve drank with cops in dry counties, too.

Next time you hear someone making fun of Alabama or Mississippi, you might wish to correct them and point their attention to that really big state a little bit to the west.

12 Comments
  1. Interesting…being pulled over for having out of state tags. I bet here in Missouri that’ll be next. They already use “sobriety check points”, where you are pulled over and questioned merely for the “crime” of driving on a particular street on a particular night. Won’t be long before you we get pulled over for having an ugly car or a Libertarian bumper sticker.

  2. Actually Bruce, I had the pleasure of being pulled over in Missouri for travelling in a van with out-of-state plates.

    The band that I was in at the time pulled off the highway looking for a motel to spend the night in and a grocery store to get some food. We got pulled over because “vans with out-of-state plates means DRUG RUNNERS”, and I’m paraphrasing what the officer said – but it was very close to that. We certainly didn’t look like big time dealers, but they proceeded to have us pull all of our gear – amps, drums, everything – out of the van and we spent three hours on the side of the road while they called in K-9 units to prove our innocence.

    It was one of the most ridiculous experiences of my life, to say the least.

  3. I got pulled over in Texas a few years back
    with California plates on the HIGHWAY.
    He thought I didn’t have some tag or
    something then asked what I did.
    “Genetics”
    “Huh?” he asked.
    “I work with DNA.”
    “What’s that?”

    What an ignorant jerk. I hate Texas now too
    with all these frivolous busts by bored cops.
    Get a life, Keystone Cops.

  4. “Texas: It’s like a whole other country.”

    Maybe the rest of us should encourage Texas to go BACK to being “a whole other country.”

  5. Just an FYI, Texas has a ridiculous law that requires cars registered in TX to display a front license plate. I doubt that anyone was pulled over for being from out of state. It is more likely that the cop was just overly aggresive in enforcing the law. After all, the Dallas police chief actually went on record and said that a traffic stop gives them reason to search cars.

    I was pulled over (in the train station parking lot) by DART police in November. The cop asked me to tell him why he pulled me over. I told him that I did not know and he got pissed. The only thing he could ticket me for was the license plate. The fine? $145. My cars still do not have front plates, but hey, there are some cars that have lines that can’t be ruined.

  6. “When the remote East Texas town of Yantis, population 347, and Tyler, which is 260 times bigger, both have four TABC intoxication arrests, it raises questions about how the agency is carrying out the operation.”

    Yeah, NO SHIT.

  7. A number of local and state cops in northern Ohio have found sizable quantities of drugs and money from stops on the interstate highways, so they look for out of state plates with a well-learned reason. If you think this is as chickenshit as the no-front-plate stop, they don’t, and have a damn good reason. It’s profiling with a difference.

  8. The Legislators in many southern states (Alabama, North Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee) make it a crime to own sex toys or have legislation pending to make it illegal. After outlawing sex toys, can we expect them to outlaw masturbation? Will phallic fruits and vegetables be next? “Arrest her, she’s got a zucchini with intent.” Whatever happened to the “Land of the free?”