The Alabama Legislature is cracking down on those who loiter on public roadways, causing a public safety hazard to themselves and drivers.
Rep. Reed Ingram (R-Montgomery) said the issue is difficult to ignore because hundreds of Alabamians are struck by cars each year. Last year, Alabama authorities investigated nearly 800 crashes involving pedestrians, 125 of which were fatal.
When the bill was passed in the House, Ingram said, “The DOT [Alabama Department of Transportation] supports this bill, ALEA [Alabama Law Enforcement Agency] supports this bill.”
Meanwhile, local governments are attempting to deal with the issue frequently referred to as “panhandling.” In 2019, the Montgomery City Council approved an ordinance seeking jail time for individuals convicted of the practice.
Under Ingram’s legislation, two or more arrests for loitering would be considered a Class C misdemeanor, carrying punishments of up to 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. However, law enforcement officers are required to offer transportation or peacefully request individuals to leave the site before making an arrest.
It includes exceptions for common-sense situations such as attending parades and social gatherings.
The bill received unanimous support Tuesday in the Senate with a 33-0 vote. It will now be sent to Gov. Kay Ivey for her signature.
If signed into law, Alabama will join other states in implementing stricter measures to keep pedestrians out of harm’s way.
Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270 for coverage of the 2023 legislative session.