Law officers review recent legislative rule changes now in effect

On Tuesday, Sept. 4, 36 area law enforcement officers met at the Heart of Texas Civic Center to review the new laws generated by the last legislative session. Officers spent a number of hours going over the changes, some of which should be brought to the attention of the Brady and McCulloch County community. “We train our officers every two years after the last legislative session is over and the new laws become effective,” said Brady Police Chief John Stewart. “It’s a means of appointing officers with the new laws that are now in place. We have also secured copies of the new laws for all of our officers here.” Among the laws changed or passed were: OPEN CONTAINER LAW No person may possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a vehicle, on a public roadway, regardless of whether it is moving, stopped or parked. This includes a bottle, can or other container which has the seal broken. Exceptions: ‘The alcohol is in a locked glove compartment or similar storage area, or behind the last upright seat if the vehicle does not have a trunk. ‘The alcohol is in the living quarters of a motor home, house trailer or recreational vehicle. ‘The alcohol is in a vehicle designed for transportation of persons for compensation (example: a bus, taxi or limousine). EVADING ARREST The penalty for fleeing from a police officer in a motor vehicle has been increased from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony, punishable by up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine. INTERFERENCE WITH EMERGENCY CALL It is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine, to knowingly prevent or interfere with a person’s ability to place an emergency call in order to request assistance from a law enforcement agency, medical facility or other agency which is to provide for safety of individuals. It is an offense to render unusable a telephone that would otherwise have been used to call for emergency assistance. A second offense under this chapter is a state jail felony. HARASSMENT This section has been changed to include harassment by e-mail. It includes obscene or threatening e-mail, and has been expanded to include repeated actions likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass or offend another. An offense under this chapter is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF A FIREARM This section has been extended to include a person who has been convicted of a Class A assault involving family violence. They may not possess a firearm before the fifth anniversary of their date of their release from confinement or release from community supervision. CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY SEAT SYSTEM The law has been changed. Children younger than age four or under 36 inches in height must be restrained in a child passenger safety seat system. The maximum fine for an unrestrained child is $200 per child. SAFETY BELTS Substantial changes have been made in the seat belt law. To summarize, it is a violation for a person under age 15 to ride in the front seat of a motor vehicle who is not secured by a safety belt. Under age 15, the driver of the vehicle is responsible to assure that safety belts are worn (the driver gets the ticket). It is a violation for a person to operate a vehicle with a child who is at least five years of age but younger than age 17, who is younger than five years of age and at least 36 inches in height without the child being secured by a safety belt. What this means is that if the child is over age 15, but under 17, both the driver and the child may be ticketed. The exemption for one-ton pickups has bene removed. DWI BREATH TEST REFUSAL If a person refuses to allow officers to submit the taking of a breath specimen, the person’s license to operate a motor vehicle will automatically be suspended, whether or not the person is prosecuted for DWI for a period of not less than 180 days. Officers will take possession of the driver’s license and issue a temporary driving permit. The permit will expire on the 41st day after issue.

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