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Bill would fine Rhode Island drivers who stop to give cash to panhandlers

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A group of Rhode Island lawmakers wants to fine motorists who roll down their windows to give money to panhandlers.

Cranston Democratic Rep. Charlene Lima introduced a bill Thursday with four Democratic co-sponsors.

It proposes a $75 fine for anyone who stops a car on a public highway to give money or other items to someone outside. Fines would rise to $150 for a second offense and $300 for a third.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island says it’s an attempt to prohibit an activity that’s protected by the First Amendment. The ACLU has fought anti-panhandling ordinances passed by Rhode Island towns and cities in recent years.

The city of Cranston last year agreed to stop enforcing its statute as part of a federal court settlement.

3 comments

  • Metal Maniac

    Driving is not a right, its a privileged. ACLU should get their long noses out of this one. I have seen several close calls from people stopping to give drug and liquor money to the homeless. The roadway is not your personal drive thru, pull over, park, and then walk to the vagrant to give them money.

  • mrsrobinsoninri

    I wonder if our legislators could even answer this question? How many accidents or injuries occurred near traffic over panhandling in the past year? DO THEY EVEN KNOW. I think they are purposely creating hysteria over what might happen because homeless people make them uncomfortable. And we should be uncomfortable when we see homeless people, because the state has failed this population. It is pathetic that RI can squander 5 million for a crappy tourist video that wasn’t even filmed in RI, but they cant feed the homeless or allow poor & disabled people to ride the bus.

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