Charleston police: Enforcement on panhandling ban to begin Friday

Charleston police will begin citing drivers and pedestrians Friday who violate the city’s new ban on panhandling.

The ordinance, which went into effect on Aug. 19, prohibits anyone — including panhandlers, people collecting money for charities, or those handing out religious fliers or selling newspapers — from passing items to or from the occupant of a vehicle on a roadway in a traffic lane. It is intended to “promote the free flow of traffic” and the safety of pedestrians near roadways, according to the police department.

Violators can be sentenced to 30 days in jail or fined up to $1,092. Vehicle drivers and the pedestrian who receives or passes an item can be cited.

Police have spent the past month educating the public by distributing cards that detail the intent, violation information and start date of the ordinance. Since the ordinance was passed, panhandling has dissipated significantly around the city.

Enforcement of the ordinance doesn’t apply if a vehicle is located on private property in a permitted parking area, is in the roadway assisting a disabled motorist or someone in an accident, or where a motorist is experiencing a medical emergency.

Reach Melissa Boughton at (843) 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC.