NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) – A rising issue of panhandling in New Iberia has residents concerned for the safety of motorists and the individuals on the road.

Officials said there are laws in place to tackle the issue of beggars causing a build up in traffic.

The homelessness population in the city has law enforcement reminding the community of specific laws in place for the rise in panhandling and those giving money to them.

New Iberia Chief of Police, Todd D’Albor, said, “You can’t stop your vehicle in the middle of the roadway to have a panhandler flag you down and cause a risk in traffic safety.”

Though panhandling is not necessarily illegal, causing traffic to build up is, which means the panhandler is not the only one who can get in trouble.

“That is something that is a public safety risk,” said D’Albor. “The motorist will get themselves in trouble for doing that (too).”

Chief D’Albor said there have been multiple close calls and actual accidents already occurring because of panhandling issues. He said it is okay to give money. Just do it in a safer way.

“It is not that we want someone to turn the compassionate eye,” D’Albor said. “It is that where they are doing this at is posing a traffic accident risk. If you want to stop to show compassion then park your vehicle and address that compassionate eye in a different way.”

The rules set forth here are necessary to ensure the safety of both the motorists and the individuals in need of help.