Missouri lawmakers have proposed legislation that would protect drivers who strike or injure protesters standing in the roadway.
A pair of bills that focus on protecting drivers from liability if they injure a protester are up for consideration in the General Assembly at the beginning of the new year.
One of the bills sponsored by State Senator-Elect Rick Brattin seeks to protect drivers from lawsuits if they strike a person with their vehicle in certain circumstances:
Any person operating a motor vehicle who injures another person with the motor vehicle shall not be liable for any damages if, at the time of the injury:
(1) The person operating the motor vehicle was exercising due care; (2) The person injured was blocking traffic in a public right-of-way while participating in a protest or demonstration.
The provisions of this section shall not apply to any act or omission of the person operating the motor vehicle that constitutes gross negligence.
Brattin’s bill has several other provisions and would also restrict funding for cities or counties that cut police department budgets.
A similar bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Adam Schnelting. The bill would protect drivers who strike and hurt or kill a roadway protester from civil or criminal repercussions. The bill would provide drivers with protection if they are “unlawful or riotous assemblage” and if “the person reasonably believes he or she or any occupant of the motor vehicle is in danger.”
Lawmakers in Florida and Utah have proposed similar legislation to shield drivers who strike protesters.