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Suppose a group of drivers want to block all regular use of a particular roundabout, so they all just start driving in it in circles. Once they're all in, the roundabout is useless, because there are no car-length gaps between them. Are they doing anything illegal? None of them are individually obstructing traffic, and traffic already in a roundabout has right-of-way over traffic trying to pull in.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Jul 3 at 16:52

3 Answers 3

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They are impeding traffic, a Class D traffic violation.

Oregon Traffic Code 811.130:

Impeding traffic; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of impeding traffic if the person drives a motor vehicle or a combination of motor vehicles in a manner that impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

A Class D violation is punishable by a fine of $65-$250, with the presumptive amount being $115.

A more serious potential charge would be disorderly conduct in the second degree (ORS 166.025), a Class B misdemeanor. This would apply if "with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, the person [...] obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic on a public way;"

As far as "none of them are individually obstructing traffic", I might disagree. If the roundabout has plenty of space for other cars, then remaining in the roundabout unnecessarily might not in and of itself impede traffic. But here the roundabout is entirely filled with cars (those of the other drivers participating in the scheme). When there is no other available space in the roundabout, then I would argue that by remaining in it, you are impeding traffic: if you personally were to exit, then one more car could enter, which they otherwise cannot.

There is also a principle of joint criminal liability. Assuming that these drivers are participating in the blockade by common agreement, they have criminal liability for each other's conduct under ORS 161.155. Then under ORS 161.150, each one is guilty of a crime if it is "committed by the person’s own conduct or by the conduct of another for which the person is criminally liable, or both." Here it is their collective conduct that commits the crime of impeding traffic or disorderly conduct, and so they are all guilty.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Jul 3 at 16:54
8

137: Penalty for wilful obstruction.

If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway he is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding [£1000]

Highways Act - 1980

Note that there is nothing in the act that states that an obstruction must be immobile.

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  • I would imagine that there might be a definitional issue over whether this counts as a highway, but there would probably be other laws to address that.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 1 at 22:09
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    @ohwilleke - "A highway is a way over which there exists a public right of passage, that is to say a right for all Her Majesty’s subjects at all seasons of the year freely and at their will to pass and repass without let or hindrance" - A roundabout (or any other form of large free-flowing junction, for that matter) would absolutely meet those requirements
    – Richard
    Jul 1 at 22:18
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    Indeed. It seems to be a case of British legal English being different from the typical usage in American legal English where in statutes "highway" usually has a much narrower definition (usually a road so designated for funding purposes by a state or federal government agency). Good to know.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 1 at 22:20
  • You commit the offence of "careless driving" in UK if you drive "without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place". Jul 3 at 13:18
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The question was about Oregon but to give a perspective from other places-

In Sweden the law is

'En förare får inte utan giltigt skäl köra med överdrivet låg hastighet,plötsligt bromsa eller på något annat sätt hindra andra förares körning.'

'A driver must not, without a valid reason, drive at excessively low speeds, suddenly brake or in any other way obstruct other drivers' driving.'

And in Israel

כל עובר דרך חייב להתנהג באופן שלא – (1) יקפח זכותו של אדם להשתמש שימוש מלא באותה דרך; (3) יפריע את התנועה ולא יעכבנה;

Every passerby must behave in a way that will not - (1) deprive a person of the right to make full use of the same way; (3) interfere with traffic and will not delay it;

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    What about (2)? Jul 1 at 20:22
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    @ThomasMarkov 2 is "cause damage to a person or property and shall not give place to cause such damage" and 4 is "endanger human life" from mmg-taabora.com/… via google translate.
    – Criggie
    Jul 3 at 8:09

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