On the first of September, several new criminal and traffic laws will go into effect in the state of Texas. Steven McCraw, the director of Department of Public Safety in the state of Texas, said that due to the new laws, the residents of Texas will now be protected while they are travelling on the roads and that individuals who ignore the laws will now face harsher penalties for a range of crimes. He added that the DPS was persuading the residents to familiarize themselves with the new laws that will affect their lives and to take part in keeping the state safe.
The new laws were passed by the Legislature of the state of Texas and they include: HB 347 which stretches the current limitations on the use of a wireless communication device in an active zone where school children are crossing so as to include the property of public junior high, middle or elementary school for which a school crossing zone has been chosen by the local authorities. The use will be restricted only when the reduced speed is in force for the crossing zone. It will also not apply to the drivers making an emergency call or using hands-free communication.
The HB 1174 that changes the current law and increases the minimum fines for the misconduct of passing a school bus that has stopped to load or unload children. The minimum fine will now be $500 up from 200 and the maximum fine for the offense has been increased to $1,250 up from $1,000. Subsequent conviction of similar offense within 5 years has also been enhanced to an offense punishable by a $1,000 minimum fine and $2,000 maximum fine.
The SB 181 which now allows the operator of a motor vehicle to use a wireless communication device so as to display the proof of insurance for the vehicle as a confirmation of financial responsibility. The display does not comprise effective permission for an officer of the law or someone else for that matter, to access the wireless communication device’s contents except for the purpose of viewing the information on financial responsibility.
HB 2304 that reduces the 2.2 million population requirement to 1 million for counties where the sheriffs or their deputies can be licensed by the Department of Public Safety to put in force commercial motor vehicle federal regulations. This law will open opportunities for counties like Travis, Bexar and Tarrant. HB 625 makes clarification that operation of a vehicle without showing the license plate assigned to it on a public highway is an offense punishable by a fine of not more than $200.
Other laws going into force include the HB 1284 which increases the penalty for the misdemeanor of instigating, communicate, or spreading a false emergency report, which involves a higher education institution from a Class A offense to a state jail misdemeanor. There is also the HB 124 that adds the Salvia divinorum, unless it is growing in the natural state and unharvested, as well as all the plant parts, extract from any part of the plant and the seeds, to the Texas Controlled Substances Act’s Penalty Group 3.