On September 1, 2019, a host of new Texas laws kicked in. Among them are those concerning gun/weapon and DWI laws.
Here’s a closer look at what Texans can expect:
Prosecution Defense for Possessing a Handgun in a Prohibited Area
Although Texans can open- or conceal-carry their guns in certain locations, there are some places that choose to prohibit licensed owners from having a firearm with them on the premises. Under a new law, if a person mistakenly enters a property that prohibits handguns, they could still face criminal charges. However, if the individual left the establishment after being told they could not carry their weapon on the premises then it is a defense to prosecution.
Transporting a Gun to and from Apartment or Condo Property
Under a new law, owners and tenants of apartments, condos, and manufactured housing are legally allowed to have their firearms on those properties. It is also lawful for them to transport their gun between the property and their vehicle. The new statute also updates the property code, which may prevent individuals from being charged with a criminal offense.
Carrying a Firearm During Evacuation
If a disaster requires a person to be evacuated, specific gun laws will be suspended, allowing the individual to take their weapon with them.
Removing Brass Knuckles from Prohibited Weapons
For the first time since 1918, brass knuckles are legal in Texas. A new law excludes them from the state’s list of lethal weapons.
Having a Firearm in a Place of Worship
Licensed gun owners are allowed to take their firearm with them into churches, synagogues, and other places of worship unless the establishment prohibits such possession. If open- or concealed-carry of guns is restricted on the premises, appropriate signs must be posted stating so.
Deferring Adjudication for First-time DWI Offense
Under a new law, if a person is charged with their first DWI and had a BAC of under .15, the judge may order them to deferred adjudication, which means they will be placed on probation. After they complete the terms, a conviction will not show up on their record. However, if the individual is charged with a second offense, the first can be referred to for enhanced sentencing purposes. As part of their probation, the person is required to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed on their vehicle. The individual can petition for non-disclosure 2 years after they are released from probation.
Increasing Fines for DWI Offenses
A new law did away with the Driver Responsibility Program, which assessed annual surcharges for traffic offense convictions. However, to make up for lost fees, the fines for DWI convictions increased as follows:
- A first conviction within 36 months: $3,000
- Subsequent conviction within 36 months: $4,500
- Driving with a BAC of .15 or more: $6,000
Requiring Ignition Interlock Devices in DWI Arrests Involving Children
If a person was arrested for driving while intoxicated with a child passenger, they must have an Ignition Interlock Device installed on their vehicle as a requirement of posting bond.
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