$1,500 fine for flicking cigarette butts from cars in IL

Posted on: 6:39 pm, December 31, 2013, by , updated on: 06:41pm, December 31, 2013

(KTVI) – A new law takes effect in Illinois on New Year’s Day that will throw the book at those throwing cigarette butts out their car windows.  The fine could go as high as $1,500.

The law, passed last summer in Springfield, has plenty of detractors.  Many feel the fine is simply too high for the offense. 

“$1,500 is steep,” Eric Schmacker said.“I can see 50 to 75 dollars as a warning and maybe take it up three times.  Other than that, that’s debatable.  I don’t think so.”

Others are conflicted about what they see as positives and negatives of it.

“It’s good and bad,” Mary Ann Wolf said.  “Good because no littering, no forest fires, no dry brush fires.  Bad because people smoke.  They’re going to want to throw it out the window.”

But asked if that wasn’t what car ashtrays were for, she responded, “New cars don’t come with ashtrays or lighters now.  So you have to buy something for the new car.”

That logic, that throwing a butt out on the road is somehow not littering, is what seems to be guiding those who throw the hundreds of cigarette butts you can see on the side of nearly any highway. 

It was even argued in court that it’s somehow not littering.  That’s part of what led to this new law.

“A couple of court cases recently here made them change the law so it specifically targets flicking the cigarette butt so there is no confusion on if it’s actually littering or not,” Illinois State Trooper Calvin Dye, Jr. said.

If you think $1,500 is high, try the third offense.  That carries a $25,000 fine and jail time as a Class D felony.