Grace period ends for law aimed to stop panhandling in Duval County roadways

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Local law enforcement can now begin enforcing a new Duval County ordinance designed to stop begging in medians, along sidewalks and in public rights-of-way along roadways.

City Council approved the ordinance last month, but established a 30-day grace period for pedestrians and drivers, who now face fines and even arrest if they break the law as the grace period comes to end.

While the law was designed to prevent pedestrians from slowing down traffic, getting in and out of cars and creating unsafe road conditions, drivers are also responsible if they spend money or anything. else to a pedestrian as he idles on the roadway.

We spoke with Constable Christian Hancock of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office about enforcing the new law.

“So the first offense would be a warning. We would document this violation and put it in a database kept by the department. So if another officer approaches them the next day or an hour later they can execute that person, if they’ve been warned once they get that second warning then the third violation warning is where we can either warn again or quote them,” he explained.

The third offense is punishable by a fine of up to $100. A fourth offense could result in an arrest.

The city council created the ordinance based on public complaints and statistics indicating that Jacksonville is considered the sixth-worst city in the nation for pedestrian fatalities involving vehicles. The latest Florida Department of Transportation figures show 492 vehicle/pedestrian crashes between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021. Of those, 48 pedestrians were killed. In 2018, there were 471 vehicle/pedestrian accidents, in which 34 people died.

The city council says this new law doesn’t mean people can’t ask for money, they just can’t do it on or along the roads.

Hancock said that ultimately it’s about safety.

“Individuals cause a disturbance in the street, they block traffic, and we have worked on several accidents involving them, and fatalities. We are trying to make the streets safer,” he said.

There is an exception to the new law for charities. They can solicit money from drivers in the rights-of-way, but they must apply for a permit from the City of Jacksonville Public Works Office.

Among the requirements, they will need to provide proof of their non-profit status, such as a registration number, they can only apply twice per calendar year, no one under the age of 18 will be allowed to apply for money, and if the group gets caught asking for money without a permit, they could be fined up to $250.

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Grace period ends for law aimed to stop panhandling in Duval County roadways

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