New Laws Take Effect September 1 - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

08/22/07-Tyler

New Laws Take Effect September 1

Beginning next Saturday, new laws take effect in Texas. 

They were passed during the last legislative session, and some of them made us sit up and notice. 

Defending your home and family, by whatever means necessary, was a right many people thought they had.  You don't until Senate Bill 378 goes into effect.  It's called the "Castle Doctrine."  Starting September 1, you no longer need to try to retreat, or find a way out, before using deadly force in self-defense.

Another law that caught our eye is one that affects thousands of older drivers.   Drivers 79 years of age and older can no longer renew licenses electronically or by mail. They will have to go to the DPS office.  Drivers 85 and older must also pass a vision test.   Also, those licenses would also only be good for two years, not the standard six.  Also from DPS, they will develop an Amber Alert-style system to alert the public to missing senior citizens. 

Also, East Texas has seen a rash of thefts of copper. The resale price for copper wiring has skyrocketed. House Bill 1766 makes theft of just $1,500 worth of copper a state jail felony.

Teenage drivers have been a focus of lawmakers from time to time, and when a youngster gets a learner's permit, the person in the passenger seat has a job to do.  Starting next Saturday, it will be illegal for the passenger of a learner's permit driver to sleep, be intoxicated, or engage in any activity that prevents them from observing and responding.

"Where the problem lies is when you have inexperienced drivers, they need to have good guidance. They need to have someone who has their wits about them and help them and provide them with good guidance and kind of be an extra set of eyes and ears out there on the roadway," said Texas DPS Trooper Jean Dark.

At school, the buses will get safer.  The state will now require lap and shoulder belts on all new buses purchased as soon as three years from now.   And for those contracted for use, they'll have seven years to install them.  But here's the kicker, if the state can't pony up the money for them, seat belts won't be mandated. 

But this House Bill 3190 will be enforced.  Part of that says districts must develop a school bus evacuation plan and train all students and staff how to safely get out. They have to do it twice a year.  

And Senate Bill 9 is already in effect requiring a national criminal history background check for all certified school employees.  And the DPS will start a database on all employees criminal histories, so districts can share information.

"We're always interested in new information and if the new database gives us new information or more significant information, we're going to take advantage of it," said Sharon Roy, Director of Human Resources for the Tyler Independent School District.

All bills passed and signed from the legislative session go into effect next Saturday, September 1.

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