New laws in effect

Being September 1, a bunch of new laws go into effect here in Texas.

Here’s the press release straight from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Some highlights:

HB 55 makes it illegal to use a wireless communication device in a school zone unless the vehicle is stopped or a hands-free device is used. Cities or counties wanting to enforce this law must post a sign at the beginning of each school zone to inform drivers that using a wireless communications device is prohibited and the operator is subject to a fine. It is a defense to prosecution if the operator was making an emergency call.

Why? Because talking (or texting) on the phone can be very distracting and render you a more dangerous driver, less aware of your surroundings? distracted from your primary task at hand? If it’s bad enough to avoid doing this in school zones, why isn’t it bad enough to avoid doing this everywhere?

SB 129 goes into effect. I never heard of “neighborhood electric vehicle” before.

Relating to concealed handguns:

HB 2730 amends numerous provisions regarding concealed handgun licenses (CHLs), including eliminating student loan defaults as a disqualifier, to clarify that DPS must suspend or revoke a license when the licensee becomes ineligible and mandating that a magistrate suspend a CHL held by the subject of an emergency protective order.

There’s actually a lot of stuff in HB 2730.

HB 2664 provides a defense to prosecution if a concealed handgun license holder carries a concealed handgun into an establishment that gets 51 percent or more of its income from the sale of alcoholic beverages, but has failed to post the statutorily required notice that it derives 51 percent or more of its income from the sale of alcoholic beverages. (Under current law, a concealed handgun licensee can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for doing this.)

This is welcome. I’ve been in a few places where I was surprised to discover a 51% sign was posted, but because it was posted improperly I didn’t learn about it until I was technically in violation of the law.

HB 2730 removes DPS authority to suspend a concealed handgun license (CHL) for the holder’s failure to display the CHL to a peace officer on demand. It removes associated penalties and suspensions for the failure to display.

I still think it’s generally sound advice that, if you’re carrying and a DPS officer requests identification (e.g. drivers license) that you include your CHL too. But the law is improved.

SB 1188 went into effect, bringing Texas out of the dark ages.

Drivers license related laws went into effect. HB 339 increases the number of hours a teenage student must have behind the wheel. I’m not so thrilled about state requirements, but to drive is a privilege. Frankly, I think the more the hours the better anyway… driving is something you need a lot of practical experience with.

SB 1967 changes things for motorcyclists. Now to obtain a “class M” certification on your drivers license you must show successful completion of a motorcycle rider safety course. I think those courses are very good things to have and data has demonstrated that riders that have taken those courses, as opposed to learning to ride by themselves or via family/friends, are safer riders. To arive alive and in one piece is a good thing. Again, driving is a privilege. The helmet law was improved; if I am reading this right, you don’t need to prove the extra health insurance and have the proof sticker any more to ride without a helmet. I think that’s reasonable, just don’t expect anyone else to pay to put your brains back in your skull if you choose to ride without a helmet.

6 thoughts on “New laws in effect

  1. Regarding HB 2664: Are there any specific penalties for a business that does derive 51% of income from alcohol sales but does not properly display the sign? This could have an unintended consequence (but a positive one if you ask me) of alcohol serving business owners who WANT CHL holder in their establishment simply not putting up the signs or putting them up incorrectly such that anyone with a CHL can carry on premises.

    Of course, this brings up the most hateful Texas CHL rule if you ask me: the lack of a definitive and explicit BAC while carrying in Texas. Yeah yeah, the easy cop-out answer all CHL instructors give is “just don’t drink while carrying”, which is all fine and good advice, but its still not EXPLICIT enough… it just doesn’t cut it as a law. Simply saying “there is no legal limit while carrying” means that its essentially up to the discretion of an arresting officer and/or judge to determine whether you are “intoxicated” while carrying a concealed weapon. Thats leaving things FAR too ambiguous for my tastes. Does that mean that if even one molecule of alcohol passes my lips that I am potentially in violation? If I wash my mouth out with listerine while carrying and a cop sees me i could be potentially in violation if said cop is having a bad day?

    I really think they need to quit being dicks about this and define a specific and unequivocal BAC beyond which one is said to be intoxicated with respect to carrying concealed… IMNSHO it should preferably be identical to the BAC for determining intoxication relative to operating a motor vehicle. I don’t think I should have to disarm myself if I just want to have a beer with dinner to avoid the POTENTIAL of violating an ambiguous rule.

  2. Reading the text of HB 2664, I don’t see any penalties… all HB 2664 does is allow as a defense that the sign wasn’t properly displayed. BUT, we have to consider the web of other codes involved, from the Government Code to the Alcoholic Beverage Code.. there may be other things already in place for non-compliance. I don’t know and my Google-fu is weak right now.

    As for the legal limit issue… that’s something I personally have wanted proper clarification on. As far as I could read from the legal wording (and I am NOT a lawyer), it was carrying while intoxicated. Thus if the current Texas legal definition of intoxicated was say 0.08% BAC, then if you had a lone beer while carrying then you’re legally OK. But I’m not sure and really want proper clarification on this.

    I get the same thing you do: just don’t drink at all. And to be honest, legal or not I think it’s still reasonable advice. There’s no question that alcohol affects your judgment. You might have just one beer with dinner, but could it be enough to affect your jugment in a self-defense situation? Maybe, maybe not… so many factors potentially involved. But is it worth the risk? Plus, consider how it may look to a jury…. or rather, how a prosecutor could make you look to a jury. In many ways, the advice of “just don’t drink at all while carrying” is sound advice.

    But on the same token, it’s also rough advice… so, you put the gun in the car, go into a restaurant, have a couple beers, then get back into the car (a cold sober other person is driving). Then something happens… now what? The issue being that we can never predict when something ugly is going to happen; given that, is the only solution when it comes to alcohol that we never ever drink an alcoholic beverage again? since we never know, we always have to worry about the jury or prosecutor or whatever…. could it matter? I don’t know. I’ve read about doctors that never drink because if their skills were needed in an emergency they wanted to ensure they were always in their peak senses. Then there are some doctors that when they’re off duty won’t get sloshed but might have a glass of wine with dinner. You can further extend this to say, being tired… it’s a time when judgment may not be best… how to remedy it?

    and you see, it really starts to go down this slope of where you draw the line in terms of being with razor sharp senses and being able to accept that we may not always be razor sharp. So yeah… it’d be nice to have clear lines drawn.

  3. I too would like clarification on what legally intoxicated means. I don’t often drink while carrying, but sometimes I do, and when I do, I limit myself to a drink an hour (which when matched with a glass of water an hour, should keep you well and sober). I love a good beer, but don’t often enjoy them, because of the gun on my hip. Knowing that being legally intoxicated would be the “two beer” limit, then I would be okay to enjoy a nice Stella or Shiner with dinner.

    Also, I heartily approve of the new Defense to Prosecution from wrongfully posted 51% signs. I like you, hsoi, have more than once found myself in a place that didn’t seem to be a 51% place, only to discover it was, with my gun on. In fact, it happened to me three weeks ago, when I was touring the Shiner Brewery. There are no 30.06 signs on the Brewery, so there is no crime in carrying within the brewhouse. However, in the gift shop, they give away beer samples, and are registered with TABC as a 51% bar. Well, I didn’t notice this until I was in line to get my second beer (sample sized, mind you about 3 ounces each), that there was a 51% sign behind the bartender’s head…Ooops.

    At this point, I fell back on the old stand by, concealed, is concealed and went about my business normally. It’s nice to know, now, that if the same thing should happen again, at least I will have a defense to prosecution.


    • Funny that you experienced this at the Shiner brewery… that was one place I experienced it. They are supposed to have the signs out front… by the time you see the signs, technically it’s too late. So yes, it’s nice to now have a statutory defense. Given the nature of 51% signs you wouldn’t have thought the way the gift shop was set up would make it a 51% place… certainly they’re not making 51% of their revenue from on-site alcohol consumption (the beer samples are given away free, there’s no true on-site alcohol SALE going on), and most any on-site financial transactions are for t-shirts and glassware. So you’d not think 51%, but apparently so.

  4. hsoi, I learned from a friend who used to live in Luling and visit Shiner regularly, that at one time they actually had a full service bar, where the gift shop is now. I imagine, that they didn’t change their type of liquor license to whichever type allows samples versus sales, when they eliminated the bar and installed the gift shop. They already had a license, why change it? I think that is probably why they have to post a 51% sign.

    I’ve been in many places though, usually not carrying, where the signs are improperly posted. That amazes me, because the law is very clear, the signs they post are legal, but the locations, behind the bar, are not.


    • Ah, that might be the case. If that is the case, I would prefer to see them fix their license.

      I have seen lots of improper sign posting. It’s strange tho, because, like you said, the law is fairly clear on how to make the sign, where to post it, etc.. I don’t really get it.


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