North Carolina Bill Protecting Drivers Who Hit Protesters is Shelved After Charlottesville Tragedy

Posted by Blake Caulder | Aug 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

The current political climate, as well as a number of controversial events, have encouraged groups of different origins and ideologies to take full advantage of their constitutional right to peacefully protest. A large influx of protests, both large and small, have broken out across the nation over the course of the past decade, thickening tensions between those who claim protesting is effective and those who claim it is an inconvenience. Legislators in several states have drafted laws centered around the act of protesting that undoubtedly contains serious implications.

North Carolina was one out of a handful of states that passed hotly contested protest-related legislation. The bill, known as House Bill 330, offers protection for drivers who unintentionally strike protestors. If the bill is enacted into law, drivers accused of hitting and possibly injuring or killing a protester could be exempt from civil liability and criminal charges as long as they were “exercising due care” and not in the commission of a “willful and “wanton” act while physically navigating a vehicle. The original text of the bill does not expound on or define what these terms actually mean.

Since the bill's passing in April, it has drawn a great deal of both praise and criticism. Supporters of the bill claim that it is not intended to incite violence, but to protect motorists who must drive through waves of protesters or who encounter blocked off streets. Critics of the bill assert that it's the state's stealthy method to weaken free speech rights of people who take part in protests. The American Civil Liberties Union coined the term, the “hit and kill” bill to describe their stance on the issue.

However, an abundance of people, along with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, had a change of heart regarding the bill after last weekend's tragic events. Many watched the news in horror as they witnessed self-described white nationalist James Alex Fields, in Virginia, plunge into a group of counter protesters in Charlottesville, killing activist Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of other people. This rally and its violent and deadly events took the nation by storm. Many North Carolina residents questioned whether the bill would have protected Fields, while creators of the bill vehemently argue that it would not have.

Despite what could have happened, state legislators have decided to shelve the bill, assuring residents that they have “no plans to move it forward.” Gov. Roy Cooper released a statement vowing to veto the bill under any circumstances. It is safe to say, that due to recent events, it will not be enacted into law anytime soon, if ever.

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About the Author

Blake Caulder

I am a North Carolina native who was born in Marion, but grew up in Rutherfordton. While I was truly blessed to be raised in a loving, caring, and stable home, I realized at a young age that not everyone had that opportunity and always had a heart to help my friends who were hurting. Upon graduating high school, I began working with my father who has a real estate office in Bat Cave, North Carolina, while at the same time, attending Gardner-Webb University. I was seeking what direction to go with my career. At the time, the most reasonable thing appeared to be to join my father in his real estate practice. But putting aside the financial aspect and given my passion to help people, I wanted to do something that would allow me take that passion to a whole other level. That's when I found the practice of law. Upon graduating from GWU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, I was accepted to Elon Law School and was a recipient of a Presidential Scholarship. After completing my first year of law school at Elon, I transferred to Charlotte School of Law to be closer to home and my wife. As an attorney, I genuinely care about each individual client. My first and foremost goal is to help every client achieve the best possible outcome in their case and I strive to make a difference in their lives. I practice in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, family law, civil litigation, and estate planning. While attending law school, I acquired significant legal experience in multiple practice areas by interning with both the law firm of Tomblin, Farmer and Morris, PLLC and the legal department of Family Dollar. In addition, I defended clients in criminal cases through Charlotte School of Law's Criminal Justice Clinic and provided legal services to individuals who were starting businesses through the school's Entrepreneurship Clinic. When I'm not practicing law, I love being involved in the community, participating in the local prison ministry and community service opportunities. I am very grateful to have a wonderful wife, Daniella, and we were blessed with our first child, Coleman Blake Caulder, in January 2015. Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Summa Cum Laude Class Rank – 1 of 328 Order of the Crown CALI Excellence for the Future Awards – Criminal Procedure, Non-Profits, Estate Planning, Civil Rights Pro Bono Honors Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar South Carolina State Bar

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