Litterers Beware Washington State Enforcement Crackdown
People in Washington State are getting hurt and even killed because of road debris–litter–and the state has had enough. The message to litterers and drivers with unsecured loads is clear: You are being watched and you will be caught and fined.
The fine for throwing a lit cigarette from a vehicle in Washington is $1,025.
The Washington Department of Ecology kicked off its new litter prevention campaign recently in Spokane with the focus of increasing public awareness about the most dangerous litter behavior: driving with unsecured loads and throwing lit cigarettes.
According to the department, road debris is involved in about 400 vehicle accidents on state highways each year. This spring, Ecology is teaming with the Washington State Patrol and many other state and local partners in delivering a litter public education and enforcement campaign.
More than 10 million pounds of litter is tossed or flies from vehicles each year.
An estimated 480 million cigarette butts get tossed on Washington roadways each year. Lit cigarettes can and do start fires, a special concern in Central Washington.
The Washington State Department of Transportation responds to about 40 brush or grass fires along state highways each year. Responding to roadside fires can cost taxpayers up to $100,000 an acre.
“We will be watching for litterers and we will be writing tickets,” said Trooper Jeff Sevigney, working from the State Patrol’s Spokane office. “Our patrol officers see firsthand the tragic results of accidents caused by unsecured loads. We are personally motivated to make sure people realize that lives are at stake and littering has dire consequences.”
The fine for failing to properly secure a load is $194. If something flies out of a vehicle and causes property damage, the driver may be subject to misdemeanor charges. If someone is injured, the driver may be charged with a gross misdemeanor, which could result in a $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail.