If you ever thought about giving someone in need a cash donation, better make sure no one drops it on the ground, or police may snag you for littering.
That’s exactly what happened in Cleveland, Ohio, as John Davis was ticketed by police May 14 when he was giving a couple of bucks to a man in need.
According to local Fox affiliate WJW-TV, Davis was exiting I-90 at the West 117th ramp when he saw a man in a wheelchair. The man was pale, thin and holding a sign reading “Jesus loves you. Please help.”
Davis reportedly has given money previously to people in need, especially those who are physically challenged.
“I have a brother that’s paralyzed,” said Davis. “My brother’s in that same situation and struggles.”
As he approached the light at the exit, Davis rolled the money up vertically and stretched his arm out of his window. He says the man touched the cash and one of the dollars fell to the ground. The man then picked up the greenback.
A few moments later, Davis says a Cleveland police officer pulled him over.
“He proceeds to tell me he’s pulling me over for littering,” Davis told the station, as he and his friends were baffled by the exchange.
The ticket specifically cited Section No: 613.06 of Cleveland’s Municipal Codes, which is littering from a motor vehicle. His offense was listed as, “Throw paper out window,” and in parenthesis, “money to panhandler.”
The Fox station says Cleveland police can’t comment on the ticket at this time, but a police spokesperson indicated it’s possible another statute may have been breached.
It states that it’s illegal to panhandle or give money to panhandlers near a highway or street including a berm, shoulder, treelawn or sidewalk.
Section No: 471.06 states in part that “No person shall stand on a highway for the purpose of soliciting … contributions … .”
It also says “No driver” is to “transfer currency … to any person standing on a street or highway.”
But Davis notes that’s not what he was ticketed for. He was cited for littering from a motor vehicle, and the officer advised him to “take it up with the courts.”
Davis does, in fact, plan to challenge the ticket, as he could face $500 in fines and court costs.
“I don’t mean any disrespect toward the police department at all we need ’em but I just wish I didn’t have to pay this ticket,” Davis said.
He admits the entire experience has put a damper on his willingness to donate in the future.
“I’d like to do it again but I’m petrified I’m going to get a ticket,” he said.