Motorists in North Carolina might soon be allowed to run over protesters who choose to block roads and intersections.
According to The News & Observer in Raleigh, the state House approved a new bill last week that will legally protect drivers who hit protesters blocking the road—as long as they “exercise due care.”
Drafted in response to protests that gridlocked traffic in Charlotte last fall, House Bill 330 was approved in a 67-48 vote.
“I became concerned for drivers after watching the recent protests which turned into riots in Charlotte and other cities,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Justin Burr. “In a number of cases the protests-turned-riots resulted in violence and the terrorizing of unsuspecting motorists, their passengers and property.”
“I strongly believe North Carolina should protect law abiding drivers from facing civil liability if a protester is injured while attempting to illegally block traffic on a public highway or interstate.”
If the bill is approved by the state senate, it will protect motorists from lawsuits if they accidentally injure a protester obstructing traffic.
“A person driving an automobile who is exercising due care and injures another person who is participating in a protest or demonstration and is blocking traffic in a public right-of-way is immune from civil liability for the injury,” reads a passage from the bill. “A person shall not be immune from civil liability if the actions leading to the injury were willful or wanton.”
Democrats argue that the bill raises constitutional concerns, citing that it only applies to situations where the person struck is participating in a protest and obstructing traffic.
“If you want to do something, you need to clear up the bill,” said state Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham County. “It basically is plain and pure unconstitutional.”
State Rep. Robert Reives, D-Chatham County, said that existing laws in North Carolina make the bill unnecessary.
“I don’t know in what universe a person can run out in front of a car, and they’re going to win a personal injury case in North Carolina,” said Reives, who is also an attorney.
Rep. Burr says that the bill has garnered widespread support within the state.
“Many people who were affected by the violence and protests in Charlotte last year have voiced support for this bill,” he told Fox News. “Drivers never have and never should be able to freely hit individuals in a public roadway. If in the event that a driver feels threatened by a protest that has grown out of hand, the law should not negatively affect the non-protesting, non-participating party from protecting themselves.”
H/T: Fox News
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