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New Texas Laws In Effect Sept. 1 2023

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

The Texas legislature was quite busy in 2023 passing a slew of new laws and increased punishments for drug crimes and other criminal offenses. Even though research suggests that harsher laws and tougher penalties have little effect on drug use, distribution, and drug crime, Texas officials continue to ram through increasingly severe legislation. One wonders if our elected officials are more interested in filling up the private prisons rather than reducing crime and decreasing the illegal drugs on our streets. In either case, these laws will do little to improve the communities they are intended to help.

Texas already has some of the highest rates of incarceration and convictions in the US and these new laws will surely grow the numbers of arrests and expand the Texas prison population. Meanwhile, the funding for police and other law enforcement agencies grows exponentially. The escalation of the “drug war” continues to exact a high cost for taxpayers and communities throughout Texas.

Many of these laws went into effect on September 1, 2023 and will have far reaching impact on anyone facing charges related to these crimes. Here’s a brief overview of the new Texas criminal laws.


In 2023, Texas enacting some of the harshest penalties in the nation in an effort to combat fentanyl distribution, manufacturing, and possession.

  • HB 6 increases the penalties for those who manufacture or sell fentanyl to a person resulting in their death. The bill classifies fentanyl overdoses as “poisonings,” allowing murder charges for those accused of providing the fatal dose. Read more here. The bill was signed by Abbott and takes effect on Sept. 1, 2023.
  • HB 3144 designates October as Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Month in an effort to increase awareness of the dangers of fentanyl and potential overdoses. The bill was signed by Abbott and takes effect on Sept. 1, 2023.

Aggravated Assault Penalties Elevated

  • HB 28 raises the criminal penalty for aggravated assaults from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony if the assailant uses a deadly weapon during an assault that causes a traumatic brain or spinal injury that results in a vegetative state or paralysis. The change in law applies only to an offense committed on or after Sept. 1. The bill was signed by Abbott and takes effect on Sept. 1, 2023.

Intoxication Manslaughter

  • HB 393 orders a defendant convicted of intoxication manslaughter to pay restitution to a child whose parent or guardian was killed in the crash. They will have to pay monthly support until the child reaches 18 years old or until they have graduated from high school, whichever is later. The bill was signed by Abbott and takes effect on Sept. 1, 2023.

Boating While Intoxicated

  • HB 1163 creates a separate criminal offense for boating while intoxicated with a child passenger. In this bill’s context, a child passenger is someone who is younger than 15. Several amendments that come with the bill can be viewed in the bill’s analysis. The bill was signed by Abbott and takes effect on Sept. 1, 2023.

Street Racing

  • HB 1442 builds off the foundation laid by SB 1495 from the last session and gives law enforcement officials and prosecutors additional means to combat street racing and street takeovers in Texas. The bill was signed by Abbott and takes effect on Sept. 1. 2023.

Tampering With Monitoring Device

  • SB 1004 makes tampering with an electronic monitoring device a criminal offense. The bill’s text clarifies that an offense of this nature would be a third-degree felony. The law does not apply to a monitoring device that is removed by a health care provider. The bill was signed by Abbott and takes effect on Sept. 1, 2023.

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