Enhanced Penalties Under the Drug Free School-Zone Law (HB 820)*

Under Tennessee law, drug-free zones were created for the purpose of providing environment in which impressionable children or vulnerable persons can learn, play, or have fun without the distractions and dangers of illegal drug activities. Under current legislation, a violation of a drug-free zone occurs on the grounds or facilities of any school, library, or park within 1000 feet. T.C.A. § 39-17-432(b)(1) (2014). The Criminal Justice Subcommittee was instructed to consider a House Bill, which reduces the current 1000 feet restriction to 500 feet. Under this proposed amendment, anyone committing a drug offense within 500 feet of a public or private elementary school, middle school, secondary school, preschool, child care agency, or public library, recreational center or park would violate the drug-free zone statute. Selling drugs 500 feet within a drug-free zone qualifies as an enhanced penalty under the drug free school-zone law.