Drivers who hit protesters with their vehicles would be protected under a bill that was introduced to the Tennessee General Assembly on Thursday.
Republican Rep. Matthew Hill filed the house bill, which would protect Tennessee drivers who are “exercising due care” when they hit and injure a protester who is blocking traffic in a public right-of-way, according to the General Assembly website. The bill states it would make the driver “immune from civil liability for such injury.”
Republican Sen.Bill Ketron introduced a similar bill to the state senate, according to the website.
Drivers would not be immune from liability if their actions were “willful or wanton,” according to the bill.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to the General Assembly website. If passed, the bill would take effect July 1, 2017.
“We believe that citizens have the right to protest. There is a procedure for peaceful protests, and the purpose of that process is to protect the safety of our citizens,” Ketron told WTVC News Channel 9 in Chattanooga. “Protesters have no right to be in the middle of the road or our highways for their own safety and the safety of the traveling public.”