With the tumultuous political climate we’ve had for the past months, it’s not difficult to see that riots and protests aren’t far behind the presidential elections. At this point, it seems that whoever wins, there’s bound to be civil unrest in the coming weeks.
If there’s one thing that we should all remember, it’s the fact that the law prevails even during periods of lawlessness. Even when everything devolves into chaos, your actions and that of others will still be subject to the rule of law. With this in mind, it’s important to be wary of how we respond to threats.
One of the most common scenarios that a lot of motorists face is when they encounter illegal barricades and threats from protesters and rioters. It’s a scary notion to have someone drag you out of your car to hurt you, but does this justify plowing through a crowd in self-defense?
Categorizing the Offense
Driving through a crowd does not only make you liable for the injuries sustained by the people that get run over, but the mere act itself is categorized as use of lethal force.
Homicide law differs between states, but the broad consensus here is that the use of deadly force is justifiable only when a person reasonably believes that the circumstances deem that deadly force is necessary in order to protect themselves or others who are about to come to harm. It’s also for this reason that personal injury lawyers like the ones at Tario & Associates are highly sought for these kinds of cases.
The “Hit and Kill” Bill
There have been efforts to create bills that exempt motorists from any liability for striking protesters under certain circumstances. These bills were referred to as the “hit and kill bills”. Drivers would be deemed immune from liability if the protester was blocking traffic and if the protest did not have a permit. However, this immunity would not apply if the driver struck the protester intentionally. The bills have not yet come to fruition. So, how does the law currently treat motorists that harm protesters?
Homicide laws vary between states, but the general consensus is that plowing your car through a crowd of protesters will be considered as use of deadly force. Much like any other similar scenario, the determinant of whether such a driver gains criminal liability is whether the circumstances made him reasonably believe that it was necessary to use deadly force, and that failing to do so would have resulted in serious injury to him or others in his care.
What Should You Do If You Find Yourself Blocked On the Road?
The best way to deal with such a situation is to avoid it entirely. Even before you’re blocked, you should be able to see the road ahead and whether there are barricades and protesters. In this instance, try to avoid the blockade as quickly as possible.
If you’re unable to detour, try to stop at a safe distance from the blockage, lock all your doors, and have everyone in the car remain calm. Notify law enforcement immediately and make sure that your dash cam is recording everything.