Don't Break These New State Laws

Laws go into effect on Sept. 1, 2009

There is a long list of new, minute infractions to watch out for now, though a few of the laws create big changes and severe penalties.

The plethora of laws are emanating from the Texas Department of Public Safety as a result of this year's legislative session and go into effect Sept. 1.

First of all, all kids younger than age 8 must now ride in approved child passenger safety seats, unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches.

And everyone in a vehicle must wear a seat belt, even if they are sitting in the back seat.

Operators of neighborhood electric vehicles can drive them slower than a posted speed limit of 45 mph or less, but they do not need a motorcycle endorsement and are not required to wear helmets (risky business in a golf cart).

A more serious violation is on the books, however. The consequences for using a vehicle to transport, conceal or harbor an alien have gone up from a one-year CDL license disqualification to a lifetime disqualification. It also specifies that any children engaged in a severe form of trafficking persons can order that juvenile’s drive license or permit to be suspended.

Another that stands out is a new restriction on Internet usage for certain registered sex offenders. It also forces offenders to provide information about their e-mail addresses when they register.

Dog fighters beware: getting caught in the act is no longer the only punishable offense for such behavior (although the law also elevates existing penalties). It is now illegal to even own or possess dog-fighting equipment, and such found in an area where the activity is being engaged in is subject to forfeiture.

Last, but not least controversial, Texans can also hereby purchase firearms, ammunition or firearm accessories in any state, rather than only those contiguous to Texas.

A thorough list is available here.

Holly LaFon has written and worked for various local publications including D Magazine and Examiner.

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