Panhandling rules enforced: law takes effect in Charleston Friday
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - For months, panhandlers have stood on Charleston's corners, medians, and roadways. The 30-day grace period is over. Those spots, now empty.
The new Charleston panhandling law takes effect Friday, making it illegal to not only beg for money at intersections and near interstates, but also give money through car windows.
Signs have been posted in several locations, like the off ramp of I-526 at Sam Rittenberg, warning people about the new law.
Charleston Police began handing out yellow cards to panhandlers in August to alert people that police will be enforcing this law.
According to the card, anyone who violates the ordinance, whether a pedestrian or an occupant of a vehicle, is subject to a fine of up to $1,092 or 30 days in jail.
"That's steep. Wow," Cindi Katz said when told drivers also pay the price when they give to panhandlers.
Katz said the new law is a good move for Charleston, adding that she hoped more people would volunteer at organizations like food banks, in lieu of handing out money on the street.
Mauri Haynes Breaker agreed with the law's passage as well. Breaker thinks the panhandling ban will benefit traffic and keep roads safe.
"I think it's a good thing," Breaker said. "I think that there are certain areas that should be designated for it."
This ordinance prohibits the passing of items to or from the occupant of a vehicle, which would include money given to people on the street, whether panhandling or collecting donations for a charity.
Under the new ordinance, panhandlers will have to move to parking lots to ask for money, or pay the price. The same holds true for drivers, who will be prevented from handing over money.
City officials released the following information on Thursday:
On September 18, 2015, officers will begin enforcement of City of Charleston ordinance 19-12 that is intended to promote the free flow of vehicle traffic as well as promote the safety of pedestrians near roadways. The ordinance prohibits the passing / receiving of any item from any occupant of a vehicle that is located in a lane of travel on the roadway. This means that it is illegal for any occupant of a vehicle to hand out or take an item from someone outside their vehicle if their vehicle is located in the roadway. The vehicle driver can be cited, as well as the pedestrian who receives / passes the item. Violations of the ordinance include a fine of up to $1092.00 or 30 days in jail. The city conducted a 30 day education period that began August 18, 2015. Officers distributed cards to the public during the education period that detailed the intent, violation information and start date of the ordinance.
This ordinance is not applicable if the motor vehicle is located on private property in a permitted parking area, if the vehicle in the roadway is assisting a disabled / accident motorist or where a motorist is experiencing a medical emergency.
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