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North Dakota may eliminate penalties for running down protesters who block the freeway


By —— Bio and Archives--January 17, 2017

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We’ve all seen the clips.  A mob of protesters rioters shuffles down the center of a three-lane highway like a scene from The Walking Dead. They block traffic, delay safety and rescue vehicles, and generally cause havoc in the name of their cause du jour. Many have wondered “what happens if you just plow into them?”  Well, usually what happens is you go to jail.  However, in North Dakota, that may soon be a thing of the past.

OK, not exactly. Before you go all David Carradine in Death Race 2000, you should know that purposely running protesters down will still be a crime. But, if a new bill makes it through the North Dakota legislature, there may be no penalty for negligently hitting someone who is willfully obstructing a public highway.

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From WPTV

Protesters may want to think twice about blocking roads in North Dakota. Republican lawmakers in the state introduced a bill last week in the legislature that would not hold motorists liable for negligently running over someone obstructing a roadway.

The bill was introduced in response to a year of protests over a proposed pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. “A driver of a motor vehicle who negligently causes injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway may not be held liable for any damages,” the bill reads. “A driver of a motor vehicle who unintentionally causes injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway is not guilty of an offense.”

Lawmakers told the Bismarck Tribune that the bill is needed after protesters blocked traffic during oil pipeline protests.

Shift the burden of proof from the motor vehicle driver to the pedestrian

As Rep. Keith Kempenich puts it, the bill is designed to “shift the burden of proof from the motor vehicle driver to the pedestrian. [Roads] are not there for the protesters. They’re intentionally putting themselves in danger. ...You can protest all you want, but you can’t protest up on a roadway. It’s dangerous for everybody.”

So remember, rioters.  North Dakota may not be for you.

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