Wichita drivers who stop to give to panhandlers could face $500 fine, 30 days in jail

Posted at 11:56 AM, Dec 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-12 16:19:40-05

Drivers stopping to give money to panhandlers in Wichita, Kansas could face a fine of up to $500 fine and a possible 30-day jail sentence thanks to a new ordinance approved by city council.

The ordinance prohibits people from stopping to exchange an item with a pedestrian on certain city streets. Pedestrians are also prohibited from approaching cars to exchange any item.

Wichita city council members have approved new ordinances to deal with safety issues caused by pedestrians standing on shoulders, medians and crosswalks to ask for money or rides or other items from passing cars. The new rule affects arterial streets, main traffic ways, roads within a defined "congested area" of downtown Wichita and roads with speeds of 40 miles-an-hour or greater.

Repeat offenders are also subject to probation in addition to the fine or jail sentence.

Deputy police chief Troy Livingston told the council Tuesday that there has been a 15 percent increase in pedestrian accidents from 2015 to 2016. He said people have been using medians, crosswalks and shoulder areas for purposes that were not designed or intended. 

Critics say the ordinance will prevent homeless people from panhandling for money on Wichita city streets