The Texas Controlled Substances Act designates certain places as “drug-free zones.” Committing certain drug crimes within those zones can increase (or “enhance”) the minimum and maximum sentence that would otherwise apply to the crime. The extent of the enhancement depends upon the particular drug-free zone in which the crime is committed as well as the nature of the crime.

Types of Drug Free Zones

Each of the following is a drug-free zone:

  • Any location within 1,000 feet of an “institute of higher learning.” That term includes the campus and buildings used by a public or private technical institute, a junior college, a senior college or university, and certain medical or dental units that provide healthcare services to students at certain universities.
  • Any location within 1,000 feet of a public or private youth center. A private youth center is a “drug free zone” only if it is a recreational facility or gym that is intended for use by persons under the age of 18 and regularly provides athletic, cultural, or civic activities.
  • Any location within 1,000 feet of a playground, other than a school playground. The playground must be outdoors, must be intended for recreational use by children, must be open to the public, and must contain at least three pieces of playground equipment (such as slides, swing sets, and teeterboards.)
  • Any location within 300 feet of a public swimming pool.
  • Any location within 300 feet of a video arcade. The video arcade must be open to the public, must be intended primarily for the use of pinball or video game machines, and must have at least three such machines.

Penalty Enhancements

Penalties increase if any of the following crimes are committed within one of the drug-free zones described in this section:

  • Manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to deliver a controlled substance listed in a penalty group
  • Delivery of marijuana

Committing one of those crimes within a drug-free zone described in this section increases the punishment for a state jail felony to the punishment that is available for a third degree felony, and increases the punishment for a second degree felony to the punishment that is available for a first degree felony.

School, Day Care Center, Youth Center, and School Bus

Each of the following is a drug-free zone:

  • Any location within 1,000 feet of a public or private elementary or secondary school.
  • Any location within 1,000 feet of a public or private youth center, as defined above.
  • Inside a school bus.

Penalty Enhancements

Minimum penalties increase if any of the following crimes are committed within one of the drug-free zones described in this section:

  • Manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to deliver 1 gram or more of a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 1 or 2.
  • Possession of more than 1 gram of a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 1 or 2.
  • Manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to deliver 28 grams or more of a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 3 or 4.
  • Possession of more than 28 grams of a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 3 or 4.
  • Delivery of more than five pounds of marijuana.
  • Possession of more than five pounds of marijuana.

Committing any of those crimes within one of the drug-free zones described in this section increases the applicable minimum sentence by five years

The following crimes become state jail felonies if they are committed within one of the drug-free zones described in this section:

  • Possession of less than 28 grams of a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 3.
  • Manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance that is not listed in any Penalty Group.
  • Delivery of one-fourth ounce or less of marijuana for remuneration.
  • Possession of more than two ounces but less than four ounces of marijuana.

The following crimes become Class A misdemeanors if they are committed within one of the drug-free zones described in this section, unless they were committed inside a private residence with no minor present:

  • Possession of less than 28 grams of a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 4.
  • Possession of a controlled substance that is not listed in any Penalty Group.
  • Delivery of one-fourth ounce or less of marijuana for no remuneration.
  • Possession of two ounces or less of marijuana.