There was a time, back when manual transmissions were the only option and the slightest incline could potentially transform any car into an unstoppable projectile, when it made sense to have a law requiring drivers to use their parking brake.
Those days have long since passed. Automatic transmissions are now almost universal, and putting a car in park is a perfectly adequate defense against runaway vehicles.
Texas law has not kept up with the times. The provision requiring drivers to set the parking brake on any unattended vehicle remains on the books, which means that it's fair game for the opportunistic cop whose ticket book is burning a hole in his pocket.
Fort Worth PD has at least a couple of such cops. NBC 5 reports that, in the early morning hours of August 24, seven or eight cars in the Chadwick Farms neighborhood of Fort Worth were ticketed for failure to apply the parking brake.
"I thought it was a joke, so I didn't pay it," Sue Johnston, whose son got the ticket while at a friend's birthday party, told the station. "And then I get a notice that I have a delinquent violation and now I owe them $55 instead of $30 that it originally was."
A Fort Worth police spokeswoman said the tickets were likely issued after officers received complaints of loud noise coming from the party. Oftentimes, she told NBC 5, officers will "enforc[e] all appropriate laws" when they can't solve an issue directly.
Calling the parking brake mandate "appropriate" is a bit of a stretch, in any circumstance. Which suggests that it's time to take that particular arrow out of law enforcement's spacious quiver. There will still be a mountain of other dumb laws to enforce.