Rep. Ugaste Files Bill That Establishes Felony Charges For People Who Block Highways During Protests

Springfield, IL – State Representative Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) filed House Bill 5819 yesterday, with the legislation aimed at amending the Illinois Public Demonstrations Law. This bill creates stiffer penalties for individuals who block a busy public right-of-way for not less than five minutes or when these actions prevent the free passage of emergency responders, including police officers and firefighters. Individuals who engage in these actions would be subject to Class 4 felony charges.

“In light of the recent protests cutting off traffic near O’Hare Airport, it’s time to bring greater charges to people who commit these acts,” stated Rep. Ugaste. “What happens when an ambulance can’t get through, or a fire truck is delayed? Lives are at stake, and first responders cannot be held up in this manner. Blocking busy roadways is very dangerous and stronger punishments should be enforced.”

The legislation includes language that prior notification to law enforcement of a protest or assembly that would result in delaying emergency responders is not an allowed defense, and Class 4 felony charges would still apply. The bill defines “exceptionally busy public right-of-way.”