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Potential defenses for charges concerning gun possession and alcohol

Texas may be a gun-friendly state, but the law does not look favorably on reckless or intoxicated possession of a firearm. Whether you have a License to Carry permit or not, state law carves out exceptions to the rights of gun owners when it comes to alcohol and drugs.

Still, firearm owners may have strong defenses within the current law and in situations the law does not clearly address.

Firearms in bars

LTC holders in Texas may carry a firearm in accordance with the law in places where state law does not prohibit. One of the better known restrictions to carrying is the “51% rule,” dictating that it is unlawful to carry at a “business that derives 51 percent or more of its income from the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption.”

In short, it is illegal to carry on the grounds of a bar or nightclub, and these businesses must post a notice containing this law on the entrance.

The new gun laws implemented in 2019 offer a potential defense to LTC holders who fail to see such notice so long as they leave the premises promptly if someone there requests it. Licensed carriers will have another defense if the bar owner fails to post this notice properly.

Gun carriers without an LTC will likely face more severe consequences for carrying unlawfully, particularly if they carry into a location explicitly prohibited under Texas law. If you find yourself facing charges without a license, you will want to contact a legal professional to determine your legal defense options.

Intoxication and firearms

If you consume alcohol while carrying a firearm, additional laws may apply. It is unlawful in the state of Texas for an LTC holder to carry a gun while intoxicated — Texas law defining intoxication as “substantial impairment of mental or physical capacity resulting from introduction of any substance into the body.”

A defense in such situations will depend heavily on the amount of alcohol you consumed and how “impaired” your behavior appeared to be. State law considers anything above a .08 Blood Alcohol Concentration to be intoxicated, but you do not need to measure a .08 to face charges.

Drinking and firearms at home

Essentially all persons in the state who may lawfully own a firearm may keep that firearm in their home, on their property or in their car, with or without an LTC. New laws that took effect in 2019 extended that right to tenants, as well.

The law does not specifically address persons drinking at home with a firearm on the premises. But gun owners will probably have a viable defense due to state protections for keeping a weapon on your property. The strength of a defense may rely heavily on whether any reckless behavior accompanied the firearms and, if so, how reckless the behavior was.