Fact Check: You CANNOT Legally Hit A Protester If They're Blocking A Road

Hoax Alert

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: You CANNOT Legally Hit A Protester If They're Blocking A Road Bad Advice

Can you legally hit a protester if they're blocking a road? No, that's not true: While some states considered legislation to provide legal protection in some cases when a driver hits a protester on a road, the proposals did not pass. A screenshot of a Google search of the question shows a real Quora.com response that "you can by all means hit the gas and plow through them," but that is not good legal advice.

The claim appeared as a post (archived here) published on Facebook on May 31, 2020. It features the screenshot of a Google search of the question "can i hit someone if there blocking the road." The top result was a Quora.com reply that read:

Nov 12, 2017 - If they are blocking a public road without any kind of permit or official protest designation, they are illegally detaining you. ... That all being said, if the protestors at any time start banging on your windows, threatening you and trying to enter your vehicle, you can by all means hit the gas and plow through them.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Jun 2 01:29:06 2020 UTC)

When you actually click on the Quora.com link, you will not see that bad answer. Instead, you will see better answers to the question "Is it legal to run over protesters that are blocking the road?" These replies include warnings that you cannot legally run over a protester blocking a road and if you do you can be liable for criminal and civil penalties:

No and the question is ridiculous and offensive. You don't have the right to try and convict and then execute someone because you are inconvenienced for a half hour at a protest. In our country we have police who have the ability and the authority to arrest people who break the law. If they allow or condone this happening, you may just have to wait it out. I know some states have floated this idea in the last year.

Lead Stories previously explored the question in an article titled Fake News: New Bills Do NOT Allow Drivers to Run Over Protesters if They're Standing in the Street.

NOLO.com, a legal advice website, laid out the details that hitting a pedestrian with a vehicle could actually result in charges for the driver here:

Hit and Run. When a driver accidentally strikes a pedestrian, but the driver also stops at the scene to follow proper post-accident protocol, the harshest consequences might be a personal injury lawsuit and a higher car insurance premium. But a driver who strikes a pedestrian and then flees the scene will likely face criminal charges, possibly even a felony arrest for hit and run, and a potential prison sentence.

Traffic laws vary to some degree from state to state, but no state allows drivers to plow into protesters.

For example, under the California Vehicle Code section 21950:

(a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety.  No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.  No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

(c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.

(d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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