Oklahoma HB 1674 protects drivers who unintentionally hit protestors while trying to drive to safety from civil and criminal liability, but critics argue that the weight it gives to the driver’s interpretation of events opens the door to abuse of the law.
In April 2021, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed into law House Bill 1674, which protects from civil and criminal liability a driver whose motor vehicle hits pedestrians at a protest demonstration, provided that the driver hit the pedestrians unintentionally and that the driver was driving near pedestrians in order to escape the threat of violence from a riot. The impetus for the new law was an incident at a May 2020 demonstration in Tulsa following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. A man driving a truck with his wife and children inside drove through a crowd of protestors, striking and injuring three of them, but the Tulsa District Attorney did not press charges because the driver claimed that he felt threatened by the demonstrators and was only trying to protect himself and his family. If you suffered injuries after being hit by a car at a protest demonstration, contact the car accident lawyers at BDIW Law.
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Are Three Protestors on Foot More Dangerous Than a Car?
HB 1674 is just one of many pieces of anti-protest legislation passed or proposed this year, mostly on the initiative of Republican governors and legislators. Since January 2021, Republican members of state legislatures have proposed 80 anti-protest bills in 34 states. Iowa and Florida recently enacted laws similar to Oklahoma’s HB 1674.
Critics of the new law claim that it gives drivers too much flexibility to justify reckless endangerment of pedestrians participating in protest demonstrations. The law protects drivers who hit pedestrians while fleeing from a “riot,” but the definition of “riot” according to Oklahoma law is also disturbingly broad. HB 1674 defines a riot as any group of three or more protestors blocking or impeding vehicular traffic. According to its critics, the law makes it sound like it is fair game to run over three people standing in front of your vehicle if you think they look scary; they fear that the law will increase racially motivated violence instead of deterring it.
While HB 1674 does not go out of its way to help people injured at protest demonstrations, you may still be able to recover damages if you were injured due to someone’s negligence at a protest, even if the person who injured you did not get criminal charges.
Contact BDIW Law About in Car Accidents Involving Pedestrians
A car accident lawyer can help you if you were hit by a car while you were walking. Contact BDIW Law in Tulsa, Oklahoma about your car accident case.
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