Texas and other states around the country establish drug free zones for a sole purpose: Protect children from exposure to drug distribution and drug use. While the intentions are good in nature, many individuals suffer harsher penalties after an arrest. Additionally, many people are unaware of what a drug free zone signifies.
Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.134 defines exactly what a drug free zone is. There are certain areas in which offenses are more severely punished, which include:
- Youth centers
- School buses
- Video arcade facilities
- Public swimming pools
Any location owned, rented or leased by a higher institution of learning – such as a preschool, high school or university – gets 1,000 feet. On the other hand, a school bus or public pool gets 300 feet.
Potential consequences of a drug free zone arrest
Individuals arrested in a drug free zone face additional punishments. A simple drug arrest can turn into a serious felony charge. For certain offenses, penalties can increase by one level. Possession of substance, delivery of drugs and manufacturing of substance are some of the offenses in which a one-degree enhancement is applied.
According to Texas Health & Safety Code, imprisonment could increase by five years and fines could hit $10,000. The ramifications continue, depending on each case.
Drug free zones are incredibly exact. That being said, there are various ways to prove the offense did not happen in the stated location. An experienced lawyer can collect evidence and highlight issues that could potentially drop or reduce charges. It's important to not settle for the harshest penalties.