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Wake to Slap Civil Fines on Litterbugs

Posted December 3, 2007
Updated December 4, 2007

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— Wake County will soon begin swatting litterbugs with civil fines to try to keep area roads clean.

The county Board of Commissioners on Monday approved an amendment to the county's Solid Waste Ordinance that adds to the penalties for people caught littering. First-time offenders would be fined $250, a second offense would lead to a $500 fine and subsequent citations would result in $1,000 fines.

"We're a messy county," Commissioner Tony Gurley said. "I think this is a way to draw attention to the problem – it's obvious there is a problem – to begin getting citizens' help in solving this problem."

Last year, 672 criminal charges for littering were lodged in Wake County. That was by far the most in North Carolina, with Mecklenburg County ranking second with 413 littering charges.

Still, fewer than half of the Wake County charges resulted in convictions. Officials said some charges were dismissed as part of plea agreements.

County environmental officials said the civil penalties will help them enforce anti-littering regulations in cases that previously could have slipped through the cracks.

"It's another tool for law enforcement to use," said Craig Wittig, director of the county's Keep America Beautiful program.

Under the new program, the Environmental Services Department will hire off-duty deputies to patrol selected thoroughfares and issue criminal and civil citations as needed. Deputies could begin training for the program as early as next week.

County staffers also will work with a consultant to evaluate ways to improve public education about anti-littering regulations and to examine strategies used in successful programs across the Southeast.

The cost for the new program hasn't been determined, but Bessie Dunn said it would be worth the cost. She lives near a county landfill and often finds litter in her yard.

"Get a warning to the people not to throw it out. If you don't get a warning to the people, they'll still throw it out on you," Dunn said.


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  • TheWB Dec 4, 2007

    Does anybody know anyone that litters, I mean I don't know any, have never heard of any who say they do it and yet there it is all over the roadsides? I see the problem as two fold, #1 it is almost impossible to catch them in the act and #2 We need to make it easier to do the right thing by having more free drop sites.

  • YourMom Dec 4, 2007

    README poster: Do you live in a house?

  • YourMom Dec 4, 2007

    Report a violation by phone:
    Call the Customer Service Office at 1-877-DOT-4YOU (1-877-368-4968) with the license plate number of the violator

    Report a violation by mail:
    Obtain the violator's license plate number and mail it in on a Swat-A-Litterbug card (call 1-800-331-5864 to request cards)

  • Tripwire Dec 4, 2007

    Con Amor there was this case where a person trash was found in the words. He was identified by his name on mail magazines and so forth. He swore that he never dumped it. He was going to get prosecuted but further investigated found that the truck driver for his trash service didn't feel like taking that last run to the dump one day and dumped it in the woods.

  • Tripwire Dec 4, 2007

    It's not just about cigarett ends (I couldn't say b*tts), A very large amount of trash comes from trash and contruction trucks. I was behind a trash truck the other day that had trash blowing out of it for five miles.

  • Greyhound_Girl Dec 4, 2007

    I use the "swat" site, too and mainly it's for cigarettes I see tossed on Hwy 70 during the morning and afternoon commutes. Thanks for reposting it "icy148", I was just about to.

    I haven't bought a new car in a while, but don't they still have ash trays? ...hint..hint...

  • icy148 Dec 4, 2007

    If you want to smoke, knock yourself out. But just like the smoke itself, don't impose your personal habit on ME by chucking your bu_ts (or anything else) out the window! Save your cr*p and get rid of it like an intelligent person, not some knuckle-dragging mouth-breather!

    I love the DOT Litter-bug reporting website: http://www.ncdot.org/doh/operations/dp_chief_eng/roadside/Beautification/Litterbug/

    You jot down the license plate, time and place and you can report it completely anonymously. They send the person a letter and a trash bag for their car. It probably won't make the low-life change their habit but at least you know they've been tagged.

  • poohperson2000 Dec 4, 2007


    I am not from the North. If smoking is a "Southern" tradition, I hope you enjoy lung cancer. What an ignorant statement!

  • Con Amor Dec 4, 2007

    Once, an uncle of mine had an officer show up at his door with an order to go to court for littering. He knew that he didnt litter, so he went to court to see what this was all about. Turns out that a peice of mail with his name and address on it was found by people that had "adopted" the road to clean. This was the same road that our local dumpsters are located on.(we have to take off our trash where we live,no curb service) So anyway, he was ordered by the judge to do 24 hrs of road cleaning. To this day he swears he's inocent, and common sence would tell you that the peice of mail could have easily blown from the dump down the road.

  • Con Amor Dec 4, 2007

    Well, I'm not sure how many NC natives we still have around, But I remember well in the 80's every commercial break on tv, would be "MR DID" anti litter commercials. Mr DID would go around to all the schools and teach the kids not to litter. He was a curly haired super hero with a cape and all. Does any one eles remember this??? What ever happened to him??