Fact Finders: An act of kindness could get you in trouble

If you’re handing out money from the car you are distributing cash.
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 10:04 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - On this Fact Finders, we’re digging into a question on Panhandling in Springfield. The question: Is it illegal for motorists to give money to panhandlers? We’re going to give this one a qualified -- YES.

The city ordinance says, “No occupant of a vehicle being operated on an arterial roadway shall engage in distribution conduct with a pedestrian standing in or entering upon an arterial roadway.”

It’s fancy legal language. And the rule is written about pedestrian and motorist safety. But if you’re handing out money from the car you are distributing cash. Read the entire code here: Rights and duties of pedestrians and motorists in arterial roadways and arterial intersections.

Meantime, the city’s official answer is..., it really depends on the circumstances. Those include; where the pedestrian and motorists are located, the details of the activity and the impact it has on traffic and safety.

“Our recommendation is that they need to be again, they’re a driver. So, they need to be concerned with that. There are I know there’s other avenues in the city of Springfield that if people would like to help folks like that, they’ve got avenues to do that. And then in a much safer environment than when you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle,” commented Springfield Assistant Director of Public Works Martin Gugel.

Now, we asked a city spokesperson if they’ve recently cited any driver for giving money to a panhandler. They told us, no.

Meantime in 2017 we did a story, and a city spokesperson then made a more direct request; please don’t give them money.

We did contact the Salvation Army too. They told us they have room at the shelter. And the doors are open for anyone who will accept help.

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