Is Public Smoking in Dallas a Misdemeanor?

Is Public Smoking in Dallas a Misdemeanor? Soon it will be, in some places.

Beginning 1 March 2017, it will be illegal to smoke in Dallas' public parks, but not all of them, and not all of the time. The Dallas City Council voted last week to approve a smoking ban with exceptions made for municipal golf courses, the city-owned gun-and-archery range, and parks controlled by private partners. The ban will be added to the 2008 ordinance outlawing smoking in, among other places, Dallas' bars, restaurants and city-owned facilities. Anyone caught violating the ordinance could be charged with a Class C Misdemeanor and will be fined up to $200.

So, come March, your venture to the park will not include filling the air with smoke, with some notable exceptions. That arbiter of all decisions, money, caused the council to approve several amendments, carving our "exemption" areas. So these exemptions permit smoking at municipal golf courses, the Elm Fork Shooting Sports facility, and other parks with contracted operators; such as the Dallas Zoo, the Arboretum, Fair Park (but only during the State Fair), and the still-under-development Trinity River Park. The Dallas City Hall has struggled with trying to outlaw smoking in public parks since November 2014, when the "Quality of Life" Park and Recreation Board first proposed the ban. The initial fervor was for a total smoking ban; however, it appears that golfers like to smoke, and in the interest of keeping golfing revne, the City of Dallas will permit smoking on its municipal golf courses.

So, now that this is a law, who will enforce the smoking ban? Willis Winters, Parks Department Director, said the city will spend several months rolling out a campaign to educate residents about the new law, however he admits that enforcement will rely in large part on "voluntary compliance, peer-to-peer enforcement [and] self-policing." Dallas police will probably get involved only if there are repeated violations, according to the press release.

So, it will be better to leave the cigarettes and cigars at home unless you are golfing, attending the State Fair, or taking in the lovely fall foiliage at the smoke-filled Arboretum. If you do find yourself at the wrong end of a smoking ticket, or any more serious offense, it is best to seek the advice of an attorney. The Law Office of Patrick Mclain has over 25 years of criminal defense experience, and is here for any and all of your criminal defense needs. Call for a consultation whenever you find yourself in a "hot" spot. We are here for you.

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