Bill would fine drivers who stop to give cash to panhandlers


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) 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.

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