In February of this year, Southern Legal Counsel and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty sued St. Johns County Sheriff David B. Shoar and Florida Highway Patrol Director Gene Spaulding on behalf of Peter Vigue, a St. Augustine resident who has been repeatedly arrested for standing on the public right of way and asking for help in the form of money or other charitable assistance.
Prior court rulings found the statutes under which these arrests were made to be unconstitutional, but they were still being enforced. However, in late September, the Florida Highway Patrol Director came to a settlement with Vigue and his counsel that will limit enforcement of the challenged statutes throughout the entire state of Florida.
FHP will no longer use the statute to prohibit people from “engaging in lawful conduct such as charitable solicitation adjacent to public streets, highways or roads, so long as any incursion is during stopped traffic pursuant to a control device and does not impede the free, convenient and normal use of the road.”
In addition, FHP will provide its officers training and circulate a legal bulletin about the change and will remove portions of the statute from the appendices of Uniform Traffic Citations Manual upon future publication. FHP also agreed to pay attorneys’ fees and costs.
Litigation against Sheriff Shoar continues.