New Wichita law: You could go to jail for giving money to a roadside panhandler

Intersection panhandlers and drivers who give them money could face stiff fines or even jail time under a new ordinance approved by the Wichita City Council Tuesday.

The idea behind it is to try to rid the city of panhandlers who wait at freeway ramps and well-traveled intersections, carrying signs asking for money.

The new ordinance prohibits the exchange of any item between a driver and a person who steps onto a major or congested street or intersection. It also bans drivers from giving something to someone in the roadway.

While it used to be an infraction carrying a $20 fine, the new ordinance makes it a criminal misdemeanor with a possible maximum penalty of a $500 fine and/or 30 days in jail.

(Read more: Local political news from The Wichita Eagle in Wichita, KS |