“This bill does not allow for the driver of a vehicle to target protesters intentionally”
In September of last year, Andrew Branca wrote a post entitled “Is it lawful to ‘run-down’ rioters surrounding your vehicle?” The question he addressed dealt with one’s rights if one perceived an imminent threat of bodily harm and was a response to a tweet from Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit.
This response to the 2016 North Carolina riots got Insty suspended briefly from Twitter. The question raised, however, is a good one and has been taken up by the North Carolina legislature.
North Carolina’s House passed a bill this week that limits civil liability if a driver, while exercising due care, harms a person with their vehicle while that person is involved in a protest that blocks traffic.
A new bill has passed the NC House that would allow North Carolina drivers to drive through protesters who are blocking the road without being sued, as long as they “exercise due care.”
The North Carolina House passed HB 330 with a 67-48 vote.
It was introduced by Republican Justin Burr and “provides that a person driving an automobile while exercising due care is immune for civil liability for any injury to another if the injured person was participating in a demonstration or protest and blocking traffic.”
“As we’ve seen, time and time again, as folks run out in the middle of the streets and the interstates in Charlotte and attempt to block traffic,” Burr said. The Republican commented that he wants to ensure that “drivers don’t have to fear driving through Charlotte or anywhere in North Carolina.”
While North Carolina Republican lawmakers were quick to note that the bill speaks directly to those drivers whose actions are “willful and wanton,” Democrats in the state are concerned that it’s a free pass to mow people down in the streets.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Justin Burr of Albemarle, said drivers wouldn’t be allowed to deliberately run over protesters.
“This bill does not allow for the driver of a vehicle to target protesters intentionally,” he said. “It does protect individuals who are rightfully trying to drive down the road.”
Democrats said the bill raises constitutional concerns because it applies only to situations in which the person hit “is participating in a protest or demonstration and is blocking traffic.”
“If you want to do something, you need to clear up the bill,” said Rep. Mickey Michaux, a Durham Democrat. “It basically is plain and pure unconstitutional.”
Rep. Robert Reives, a Sanford Democrat, said the state’s current laws 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 an attorney.
Watch the report:
You can read the full text of the bill here; the bill is now headed to the North Carolina Senate.DONATE
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