As of the beginning of September, there are some Texas laws that have gone into effect (more than 670, in fact). Here’s a short breakdown of a few of them that you may have heard about.
- House Bill 62. This is a statewide ban on texting and driving that makes it a misdemeanor offense to use a wireless communications device to read, write or send electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle. If the car is stopped, you can text, even at red lights – but it’s still not recommended.
- Attacking police officers is now considered a hate crime, which can enhance certain charges. For example, intoxication assault against a police officer is now a first-degree felony.
- House Bill 1935 has legalized open carry of knives and blades five and a half inches and over. Yes – that means you are now legally allowed to open carry a sword. Have at thee! Of course, you still can’t carry a sword into a school, bar, hospital or church.
Other 2017 Laws
These changes join a variety of other laws that went into effect in 2017, including:
- expansion of the sex offender list
- changes to prostitution laws
- changes to Class C expunctions
- banning improvised explosive devices
- increasing penalties for damaging dams
- making it illegal to operate drones too close to stadiums, prisons and jails
- increased penalties for forms of election fraud
- language updates regarding awareness of age of victim and definition of consent in sexual assault and statutory rape
- adding several drugs to the list of controlled substances
- making it possible to get a DWI conviction nondisclosed
- and many more
As always, if you are charged with a crime in Texas, the most effective way to have your charges and penalties reduced or dropped is to discuss your case with a Texas criminal defense attorney.