Local News

Bill Would Allow People to Swat Litterbugs

Posted March 22, 2007 5:48 p.m. EDT
Updated March 22, 2007 6:15 p.m. EDT

— State residents are the best weapon against highway trash, according to a lawmaker who wants to empower people to report litterbugs.

State Sen. Jim Jacumin, R-Burke, has filed a bill that would allow anyone to file a sworn affidavit with a civil magistrate after witnessing someone dispose of trash illegally. The affidavit would detail the car description and license plate number of the offender, as well as the date and location where the littering took place

The magistrate would then use the license number to find the offender and send him or her a $100 citation.

"If you throw that trash out of your car and somebody sees you, that's an eyewitness to it, and the citizenry needs to come forward and correct this problem," Jacumin said. "The solution isn't continuing to pick it up. The solution is stop it from being thrown out."

State Highway Patrol troopers and state Department of Transportation workers have too many other pressing duties to worry about catching litterbugs, he said. Troopers rarely write littering citations because they have to catch someone in the act, according to authorities.

Although they support Jacumin's desire to clean up state roads, some lawmakers said they have concerns about his proposal.

"Write everything down, drive down to the magistrate's office, swear out the complaint. That's a lot of burden for the person who's detecting the litterer," said state Rep. Deborah Ross, D-Wake.

There's also a question of civil rights, Ross said.

"It's definitely a guilty-until-proven-innocent way of dealing with it," she said.

Jacumin said he has included a provision in the bill that would make false littering reports a felony crime.

"We want to create problems for folks that litter in our state," he said.