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Many changes to Texas laws
by Chip Latcham
Sep 04, 2013 | 64 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As of Sept. 1, several new laws have gone into effect in Texas, and drivers and citizens better learn them fast or face some stiff fines and penalties.

One having a major impact is the expansion of the Move Over/Slow Down law. SB 510 requires drivers to move over or slow down (as required depending on the roadway) when approaching a stationary Texas Department of Transportation vehicle with its lights activated and not separated from the roadway by a traffic-control device. The law already requires drivers to yield to tow trucks, police, fire and emergency vehicles.

Violators would commit a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $200; punishable by a fine of $500 if property damage occurs; or a Class B misdemeanor if the violation results in bodily damage.

Another law, HB 347, expands the current limitations on wireless communication device (cell phone) use in an active school crossing zone, in addition to a school zone.

Fines also are increased for passing a stopped school bus loading or unloading kids. The minimum fine increases from $200 to $500, and the maximum fine for such an offense increases from $1,000 to $1,250, under HB 1174, and they are even higher if you’re a repeat offender.

Drivers involved in an auto accident must determine whether injured person(s) in the other car require aid (thanks to HB 3668), and SB 275 increases the penalty to a second-degree felony for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in the death of a person and failing to render aid.

On a positive note, motorists can now show proof of insurance on their cell phone, courtesy of SB 181.

Applicants for concealed handgun licenses now need four to six hours of classroom instruction before going to the shooting range. They were previously required to have 10 to 15 hours. Current license holders also now can renew online.

Other changes include reducing the number of standardized tests needed to graduate high school from 15 to five and restoring $4 billion in public school funding.

Penalties have been increased for the offense of initiating, communicating or circulating a false report of an emergency (such as a bomb threat) involving an institution of higher education, and for an individual fraudulently using identifying information to avoid registering as a sex offender.

For those who prefer simulated marijuana: HB 124 adds Salvia divinorum – including all parts of the plant, seeds and extracts from a part of the plant – to Penalty Group 3 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act.

If they have read/heard about the dangers of smoking salvia, the users should be fined for abject stupidity.
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