A Utah lawmaker wants to clear drivers of criminal liability if they accidentally injure or kill protesters during a riot under certain conditions.
The proposed legislation by Republican state Rep. Jon Hawkins “eliminates criminal responsibility” of a motorist for injuring or fatally wounding someone during a riot if the driver feared for their life and was “exercising due care” at the time.
The bill also seeks to make intentionally blocking traffic during widespread civil unrest a third-degree felony, which is punishable in Utah by up to five years in prison.
“We respect the right of the people to peacefully assemble,” Hawkins told the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee Tuesday, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “When that peaceable assembly becomes a violent assembly, that’s what we’re trying to determine and enhance the penalties on.”
State law already prohibits blocking roadways or sidewalks, but Hawkins’ legislation would enhance that crime to a felony if it’s part of a