New Bill Would Protect “Fleeing Drivers” From Charges if They Hit Highway Protesters
Tallahassee, FL – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) is putting forward new legislation to crack down on “violent protesters” and increase penalties for people who block and obstruct roadways.
In an announcement on Monday, Gov. DeSantis unveiled a new bill called the Combating Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act.
“Today I announced bold legislation that creates new criminal offenses and increases penalties for those who target law enforcement and participate in violent or disorderly assemblies,” Gov. DeSantis said. “Our right to peacefully assemble is one of our most cherished as Americans, but throughout the country we’ve seen that right being taken advantage of by professional agitators, bent on sowing disorder and causing mayhem in our cities. I will not allow this kind of violence to occur here in Florida.”
Today I announced bold legislation that creates new criminal offenses and increases penalties for those who target law enforcement and participate in violent or disorderly assemblies. We will always stand with our men and women in uniform who keep our communities safe. pic.twitter.com/ITl5GmmrZJ
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) September 21, 2020
The bill, if passed, would require a minimum mandatory jail sentence of six months for those who target law enforcement officers by throwing projectiles such as bricks and molotov cocktails at police.
This crime has become common during violent protests in cities such as New York, NY; Seattle, WA; and Portland, OR, in recent months.
The bill also addresses an issue of great concern to many within the trucking community… protests staged on interstates and highways.
The provisions of this proposal would increase penalties to a 3rd degree felony for anyone who obstructs traffic during an unpermitted protest, demonstration or violent or disorderly assembly.
Under Florida law, a 3rd degree felony is punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Additionally, the bill would provide protection for motorists and truckers who find themselves in the middle of an obstructive or violent protest.
According to Gov. DeSantis, the legislation will ensure that a “driver is NOT liable for injury or death caused if fleeing for safety from a mob.”
The legislation also targets municipalities and local governments seeking to defund its police departments.
Gov. DeSantis indicated the bill will prohibit state grants or aid to any local government that slashes the budget for law enforcement services.
The proposed legislation is expected to be taken up by the Florida legislature when the next session convenes in March 2021.