The laws of the state of Texas, officially called the Texas Statutes, are passed by the Texas Legislature during biennial sessions. They are published in terms of codes which are classified according to various topics, including that of health and safety. The Texas Health and Safety Code defines the role and purpose of the Texas Board of Health and the Texas Department of Health, as well as the rules for both, with an aim of protecting and promoting the health of Texas citizens. As such, it addresses several related areas, including drug and alcohol use. Title 6 of the Texas Health and Safety Code specifically deals with food, drugs, alcohol, and hazardous substances; this includes the Texas Controlled Substances Act, and the Drug-free Zones established throughout the state of Texas.

What are Drug-free Zones?

Drug-free zones are areas designated by law where the use and possession of any controlled substance is most strictly prohibited. Lawmakers established protected zones that encompass areas where children are regularly present, such as schools and public parks. The push for drug-free zone laws occurred so that children might be better protected from the dangers associated with drug activity.  Individuals caught selling or distributing drugs or using drugs within drug-free zones is subject to significantly greater penalties under the law than other offenders who engage in the same illicit activities outside those protected zones.

Texas Drug-free Zone Basics

Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.134 is the specific section of the state statute that clarifies the nature of drug-free zones in Texas. According to the code, Texas drug-free zones are defined as premises that are owned, rented, or leased by an institution of higher learning; the premises of a public or private youth center; a playground; the premises of a public swimming pool or video arcade facility; or on a school bus. It includes elementary and secondary schools and daycare centers, as well—all areas with high populations of individuals under 18 years of age.

As for penalties for the possession, distribution, or use of illegal drugs in Texas drug-free zones, they are severe. Every crime for which an arrest is made within increases the severity of the criminal charge by one full degree. That is, a third-degree felony is changed to second-degree felony, for example, for the purposes of sentencing. This means that jail or prison time may be considerably longer, and any fines may be significantly greater.

If you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with state drug laws, Jarvis, Garcia, & Erskine Law, based in Austin, Texas, can help. The professional lawyers at Jarvis, Garcia, & Erskine Law handle a wide range of drug-related cases and can help you navigate the complicated legal system, so you have the best possible outcome for your case. Contact the competent team at Jarvis, Garcia, & Erskine Law to answer your questions and address your legal needs.