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tips for eclipse tourists in Texas

Eclipse Tourists: Texas Laws You Need to Know

More than a million tourists are expected to be in Texas to witness the total solar eclipse on April 8. The influx has prompted many counties and cities to issue local disaster declarations, and every law enforcement officer in the state will be on duty and high alert.

While officials expect eclipse tourists to be on their best behavior during their stay in the Lone Star State, some will undoubtedly find themselves on the wrong side of the law. After all, what’s legal in their state may be against the law in Texas.

To help visitors avoid legal pitfalls and ensure their eclipse experience is memorable for all the right reasons, we’ve compiled this handy guide to Texas laws.

Gun Laws

Texas has relatively permissive gun laws. Most people 18 or older can carry a handgun in a holster without a permit, both openly or concealed. However, there are restrictions on where you can carry a firearm, such as schools, courthouses, bars, and secured areas of the airport. Non-residents are permitted to carry a gun in Texas as long as they are legally licensed under their state and federal laws. So if you are planning on carrying a handgun, be sure to bring your permit, as Texas recognizes concealed carry permits from more than 40 states that have reciprocity with Texas.

Alcohol Laws

The legal drinking age in Texas is 21. However, people under the age of 21 can consume alcohol in the presence of an adult parent, guardian, or spouse. Of course, It’s illegal for anyone to drive while intoxicated – which is defined as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more or not having normal physical or mental faculties due to an intoxicant. It’s also illegal for anyone to drive or ride with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. Additionally, Texas has specific times when alcohol can be sold, which can vary by city or county.

Public Intoxication Law

It may be tempting for eclipse tourists to indulge in celebratory drinks during this once-in-a-lifetime event but don’t overdo it. Public intoxication is a crime in Texas. This offense occurs when a person is so intoxicated in public that they pose a danger to themselves or others. And while the punishment is a $500 fine, you will likely end up in jail to sober up.

Marijuana Laws

Marijuana is legal in many states across the country, but Texas is not one of them. Possession of marijuana is illegal in Texas, and penalties can be severe. For example, possession of two to four ounces is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine. Anything amount above that is a felony. And let’s not forget about vaping – a common way people are inhaling THC these days. In Texas, vaping THC is a felony, regardless of your age or the amount.

Trespassing Law

With the influx of tourists seeking the best spots to view the eclipse, it may be tempting to trespass on private property. This is against the law in Texas. It’s critical to respect property boundaries and signage, and to obtain permission before entering private land.

Smoking Laws

Smoking is banned in many public places in Texas and some cities have stricter regulations than others, so be mindful before lighting up. It is also illegal for people under the age of 21 to purchase, possess, use, or accept a cigarette, e-cigarette, or tobacco product in Texas.

Speeding Laws

Texas has some of the highest speed limits in the country, with certain highways allowing speeds up to 85 mph. However, speed limits can vary greatly depending on the area, so always pay attention to posted signs. Police will be in full force during the eclipse, and speeding can result in hefty fines and even jail time if they believe a motorist is driving recklessly.

Texting and Driving Law

Texting and driving is illegal in Texas. It is against the law to read, write or send a text while behind the wheel. Emailing, instant messages and posting to social media is also not allowed. However, using a hands-free device for a call is allowed for drivers over 18.

Seat Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws

Texas law requires all passengers in a vehicle to wear seat belts. Children under 8 years old or shorter than 4 feet 9 inches must be in a child safety seat. Failure to comply can result in fines ranging from $25 to $250.

Arrested Eclipse Tourists? Contact Us.

According to a new study, the Lone Star State will be the top destination for eclipse tourists. With so many visitors expected to flock to Texas, it’s inevitable that some will run into legal trouble.

Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse in Texas. Telling the police you didn’t know something was illegal won’t get you out of a citation or arrest. That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with Texas laws before your visit and always err on the side of caution.

If you or a loved one do end up in handcuffs, it’s important to contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. In fact, if you are visiting North Texas, go ahead and put the law firm of Varghese Summersett in your phone now: 817-203-2220.

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