Tennessee bill makes obstructing highways a felony, grants immunity to drivers who unintentionally hit someone

Politics

Protesters block State of Franklin Road in Johnson City in 2020 (Photo: WJHL)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — A bill in the Tennessee General Assembly would make obstructing a highway a felony. It would also grant immunity to drivers who unintentionally injure or kill someone blocking a highway.

The House Criminal Justice Committee is scheduled to take up HB 513 on Wednesday.

The bill would upgrade the offense of obstructing a highway or street from a Class B or C misdemeanor to a Class E felony. It would also apply to obstructing a railway, waterway, hallway, “or any other place used for the passage of persons, vehicles or conveyances.”

Class E felonies are punishable by up to six years in prison. The bill would also impose a mandatory $3,000 fine.

Under the legislation, if a driver “who is exercising due care” unintentionally injures or kills someone blocking a highway, the driver would be immune from prosecution for the injury or death.

The Senate version of the bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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