What would I have to do to earn the max $1000 fine for littering?

Don’t need answer fast, I’m not in the habit of littering.

Many US highways have signs detailing a maximum fine for littering. I would guess that it’s worded this way because it’s shown to be a more effective deterrent to list the maximum rather than the range. But how does one get the maximum instead of the minimum? I do realize that state laws vary, so I’m looking for examples of deciding factors. Maybe either a) on a repeat offense, or b) throwing out certain items, e.g. not a candy wrapper but a water heater, or a cigarette butt during fire warnings?

This website does a good summary of state laws, and from a reading of e.g. California it suggests that a) not the primary factor, as you can still earn a range from each offense, and even your 12th offense ranges $750-1000.

There’s an Alice’s Restaurant joke dying to be made here that I’m too lazy to craft.

Arlo dumped a whole truckload of litter down a hillside, way back in 1965, and only got fined $50 for it. What would $50 of 1965 money amount to in today’s money?


Smartasses :slight_smile:

But, he also had to pick up the garbage.

But he only admitted to putting an envelope under that pile of garbage. Just another case of blind justice, I suppose.

It’s not how much you litter but who is personally affected–the judge, the mayor…

Volume seems to affect the fine (and the type of infraction) as well. Notice, for example, that Florida draws a distinction between “amounts not exceeding 15 pounds or 27 cubic feet” and “amounts greater than 15 pounds or 27 cubic feet”.

Don’t litter in Illinois… Your third conviction for littering will be a felony with a $25,000 fine plus prison time. :eek: In Hawaii, you’ll just get a few hours of community service assigned.

As for Arlo and his well-meaning friends, the fine is up to $5,500 for a first offense in Massachusetts. No mention of being sent off to the Group W bench.

Apparently, in some states you can get cited for littering even if you simply pour some water out into the landscaping at a road-side rest stop. When I drove through Nevada a few years back, the road side stops had prominent warning signs posted saying so.

I believe there is generally a great deal of police and judicial discretion involved in those types of offenses. You generally aren’t going to get a $1000 fine for dropping a candy wrapper on the street but you very well could if you throw a large bag of garbage on the police chief’s lawn out of spite. It is kind of like the ‘Don’t be a jerk’ rule here. It is a little nebulous but most people know it when they see it.

One of the worst police encounters I have ever witnessed started over a dropped glass bottle that broke in a public park. The officer that happened to be close by simply asked the person that did it to pick it all up which was promptly refused in a loud and explicitive filled way. That didn’t go over too well to say the least and started an altercation with the officer that ended up with the person being pepper sprayed and arrested. I am not sure how many of the more serious charges stuck but littering can lead directly or indirectly to a wide range of charges directly or indirectly if the person decides to be confrontational over it.

I always assumed that it would have to be dumping a dead body out the window which would yield the maximum fine.


I suspect that, like many misdemeanors, Contempt of Cop is key in obtaining maximum fines.

Italy just passed a littering law. It is a fine of 500 Euros for tossing a cigarette butt.

27 cubic feet is a lot of trash. It’s equivalent to more than 15 kitchen-sized trash bags (13 gal. each). It’s very odd to juxtapose that with 15 pounds.

I love that though I am surprised that Italy, a country of smokers, is leading the charge. I hate it when I see smokers toss their butts out car windows, which is all the time.

I have a smoke once in a while. Since cars no longer have real ashtrays, I often roll the butt until the cherry falls out the window and deposit the cold butt into a garbage sack. (I figure some dried leaves aren’t a big deal for the environment?)

Am I going to get fined 500 EUR for that? And how is the cop to know whether I tossed out a full butt or just an ember?

In Colorado at least, the ember can be the worst part. Forest Fires.