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New Gig Harbor law targets panhandling

A new law in Gig Harbor, which could fine people who give or accept handouts at certain traffic intersections, goes into effect on Tuesday. (Photo: KOMO News)

GIG HARBOR, Wash. - The City of Gig harbor says it has a plan to fight panhandling.

A new law, which could fine people who give or accept handouts at certain traffic intersections, goes into effect on Tuesday.

Police said car accidents led to the crackdown.

The Gig Harbor Chief said for the past three years, a third of all crashes happened near eight roundabouts and the Olympic Drive and Point Fosdick intersection. Those are the areas this ordinance is focused on.

The police chief said violating the ordinance is considered a misdemeanor, so the punishment is up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

"I think it is a bit extreme but the law is the law,” said driver John Rybin. “I haven’t seen too many people out here and they’re not aggressive like they are in Tacoma.”

“If you're reaching out and giving a dollar standing there at the corner and somebody crashes into you, they were on their phone or they weren't paying attention. That's probably what’s happening,” said driver Abraham Wenzl. “The guy's not standing there going stop and everybody goes crash.”

Under the new law, panhandling won’t be allowed within 200 feet of any roundabout or overpass and within 500 feet of the intersection of Olympic Drive and Point Fosdick Drive.

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