Tennessee bill would make drivers immune from civil liability in protests

Jan. 10, 2017: Lawmakers met in Nashville today to convene the 110th General Assembly, as some legislators from East Tennessee are taking on news roles, and some are eyeing new laws.

A bill filed in the Tennessee general assembly would make drivers immune from civil liability if they hit a protestor.

Senate Bill 944, filed Thursday by Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, reads:

"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 such injury."

If a driver intentionally hits a protester or acts in an otherwise careless manner, they will not be immune from civil liabilities, according to the bill.

Track SB 944: Click here

Recent protesters in Nashville have clashed with traffic as demonstrators close or block parts of major roadways. During a recent protest in front of the Nashville offices of Tennessee Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander Metro Nashville Police responded to an incident where several demonstrators ended up on the hood of a passing SUV.

"Five or six protesters were on the hood of an SUV," Nashville Police Capt. Greg Blair told The Tennessean. "The driver drove about 100 feet to a TigerMart (gas station)."

This bill follows a nationwide wave of legislation targeting protesters with similar driver protection orders to proposed laws that would hold demonstration organizers financially liable for police overtime pay.

If passed, the bill would go into effect July 1.

This story originally appeared on The Tennessean's website.

(© 2017 WBIR)


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