Cigarette butt littering law hard to enforce

(KTVI)– A well-publicized Illinois law throwing the book at drivers who throw cigarette butts out the window has taken effect with a thud. The law, which allows for a $1500 fine for tossing away a smoke, has gone almost unenforced in its first three months on the books.

Officials in St. Clair and Jersey counties say not a single ticket has been written under the law, which took effect January 1, 2014. Numbers were not available from Madison County.

Illinois state police say “very few” citations have been written by their agency statewide, and they say there is a very simple reason: they have to see an offense to ticket someone for it.

“They slow down when they see us, they reach for their seatbelt and pull that on, it’s the same thing with a cigarette butt,” Illinois State Police Trooper Calvin Dye, Jr. said. “Most motorists aren’t gonna throw it out if there’s a marked squad car is in their vicinity and they’re able to observe it.”

With the current run of very dry weather, red flag warnings have gone up for many counties in the St. Louis area. This law would seem like a good tool in preventing brush fires. But some believe state lawmakers may have passed an unenforceable law.

“I think it would probably be a waste of time,” Wes James told us.

But some still see it as a valuable tool.

Patrick Carter of Collinsville said, “I don’t think it’s necessarily something that needs to be enforced on a regular basis, but to have it there as a deterrent is something that’s pretty beneficial I think.”

The law was sponsored by a group of Chicago area legislators. Metro East lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans alike, were united in their opposition to it.

New Illinois law fines cigarette butt littering $1,500

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