GIDDINGS POLICE DEPARTMENT
Texas has passed several new laws in 2017, many took effect in September.
1. The one everyone hears about is Texting While Driving. It is an offense to text while driving, which means while the vehicle is moving. If you are stopped, it is not illegal. It is an AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE TO THE PROSECUTION if you use voice to text and a hands free device, are making or receiving an emergency text. [Just a note here: "Affirmative Defense to the Prosecution" means you could still get the citation, and it will be up to you to prove your defense in court].
2. There is no longer a length restriction to knives or blades. You will legally be allowed to carry a sword, machete, saber, spear and knife with blades more than 5.5 inches long in most public places.
3. Attacking a police officer or judge will be considered a hate crime. This means the penalty is enhanced by one degree if convicted. The penalty for making terroristic threats against peace officers will also change from a misdemeanor to a state jail felony.
4. Gun license fees were reduced to $40, down from $140.
5. Licensed concealed carry is now legal on junior college campuses.
6. A person who, by force or otherwise, enters a motor vehicle for the purpose of removing a vulnerable individual from the vehicle is immune from civil liability for damages resulting from that entry or removal. This means the owner cannot sue you for damages for breaking a window to remove a child from a hot car.
7. First responders who provide roadside assistance in good faith are not liable for damages, so long as they are not grossly negligent, reckless, or commit intentional misconduct. This was why most officers wouldn't carry a "slim jim."
8. Increased the penalty for certain littering violations. Illegal dumping, outdoor burning of household refuse, or the disposal of litter in a cave, requires community service not to exceed 60 hours, in addition to any fine or other penalties assessed. Don’t mess with Texas!
9. An anti-cyberbullying act provides that a person commits an offense if the person directs multiple written, oral, or electronic communications toward a child in a manner that is reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend the child, with the intent that the child commit suicide or engage in conduct causing serious bodily injury.
This is only a small portion of the 1200+ Bills passed. Check the Texas Legislature for more information. Got questions? Click on the "Contact Us" link and I will try to answer them.