MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - There's no law to prevent panhandlers or anyone from asking for money from drivers stopped at Mt. Pleasant's intersections or highways.
On Monday, a town council committee took first steps toward prohibiting panhandling in East Cooper.
"We've always been looking at it all along but have been using the state law as it applies from passing things to and from vehicles," Mt. Pleasant Police Chief Carl Ritchie said. "We just thought it was appropriate for the town to have its own ordinance to deal with this."
The Police, Judicial & Legal committee unanimously voted Monday to move forward on a proposed ordinance that would make it illegal for
drivers to pass items to a person on the roadway.
"It's for everybody's safety," Councilman Elton Carrier said. "We're a busy place like West Ashley is and Charleston is, and we're just trying to keep the public safe."
Mt. Pleasant police said they don't think panhandling is a big problem in the town, but they still want to be able to enforce it.
"We haven't had a huge influx of panhandlers, but we've had a few more, and they are showing up on our very busy highways," the police chief said. "We don't want cars stopping in the middle of I-526 to hand off money or somebody running across the highway to collect money. So we thought it best to have our own town ordinance to address this issue before it becomes a public safety issue."
If passed by town council, the ordinance would also prohibit anyone selling newspapers or collecting money for charity at intersections or street corners. Police said they're not telling people not to give, just not in the middle of busy highways.