Saturday, April 17, 2021

Senate approves bill giving protections to drivers trying to escape riots

Senate approves bill giving protections to drivers trying to escape riots

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 14th) – The full Senate has approved legislation by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, and Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, to give legal protections to drivers trying to escape from riots.  House Bill 1674 was approved by the full Senate on Wednesday and would give civil and criminal liability protection to drivers who may unintentionally cause injury or death while fleeing a riot and imposes penalties for those who unlawfully obstruct streets or highways, blocking vehicles.

“We actually saw this happen here in Oklahoma last year when a Tulsa family was surrounded by rioters. Through no fault of their own, they were caught in a dangerous situation, and fearing for their lives, they were attempting to get away,” Standridge said.  “The prosecutor declined to file charges, but that may not always be the case.  This bill will protect innocent people trapped by a rioting mob.” 

Under HB 1674, any person who unlawfully obstructs the use of a public street, highway or road by approaching vehicles or endangering the safe movement of vehicles or pedestrians would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year the county jail and/or a fine ranging from $100 to $5,000.  Additionally, they would be liable for all damages to person or property.  The bill also provides that a driver who unintentionally causes injury or death while fleeing a riot would receive civil and criminal liability protection. 

 “This bill adds to language in existing law regarding riots and is directly in line with the Tulsa district attorney’s decision over the summer that protected a motorist fleeing a riot,” West said. “This is an important protection for citizens who are just trying to get out of a bad situation. When fleeing an unlawful riot, they should not face threat of prosecution for trying to protect themselves, their families or their property.”

HB 1674 will now be sent to Gov. Kevin Stitt for his consideration.


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