Local News

Wake Deputies Begin Cracking Down on Litterbugs

Posted January 14, 2008 2:27 p.m. EST
Updated January 18, 2008 7:29 p.m. EST

— Wake County deputies on Monday began patrolling areas strewn with the most roadside litter to begin enforcing new county regulations.

Through the end of the month, anyone pulled over for littering will receive a written warning and be given information about North Carolina litter laws. Starting Feb. 1, all litter violators will be ticketed for either a state criminal violation or a county civil violation.

"Litter on the roads and highways is not a new problem, but it is a problem that is growing quickly," Commissioner Tony Gurley said in a statement.

"Wake County does not intend on following this trend. In fact, we intend to reverse it.

"The program is simple. You litter, you pay for it – and you will pay a lot of money as well as your time," Gurley said. "Fines will range from $250 to $2,000."

Nine road segments totaling 51 miles have been selected for enforcement initially, and 60 deputies have been trained to handle it. Sheriff Donnie Harrison said off-duty deputies would work in four-hour shifts to assist regular patrols.

"Quite simply, your trash can cost you cash – and time," Harrison said. "Is throwing a burger wrapper out your car window worth a fine that could cost you $2,000, hours of mandatory community service and points on your driver's license?"

The pilot program will help Raleigh and Wake County officials improve the efficiency and effectiveness of pursing criminal citations and civil penalties for littering, officials said.

The county's Solid Waste Management Division also is working with a consultant to identify and evaluate successful litter management models from elsewhere to determine the best approach to take locally.

Last year, Wake County had almost 380 tons of litter on roadsides – an average of about 150 bags a day, according to the Department of Transportation.

North Carolina spent $18 million last year cleaning litter from roadsides.