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States with Littering Penalties

States with Littering Penalties

Updated: March 2014

States spend millions of dollars each year to clean up littered roadways, parks, and coastal areas. In addition to the direct cost of litter removal, litter also harms the environment, property values and other economic activity. The most common types of litter are food packaging, bottles, cans, plastic bags, paper and tobacco products. States can discourage littering through a variety of methods, one of which is to create and enforce criminal penalties that punish unwanted behavior. While all states have some type of litter law, penalties vary widely, based on the amount, type, and location of litter. In 10 states, for example, the weight or volume of litter determines the severity of the crime. Other states focus on the type of litter, imposing penalties for dumping large items, such as furniture or major appliances. Many states have also enacted legislation to address littering in certain places, such as public highways, coastal areas, and recreational areas.

For relatively minor cases, courts typically impose a fine and may order litter cleanup or community service. Fines range from $20 in Colorado to $30,000 in Maryland. In more serious cases, offenders may be subject to imprisonment, with sentences ranging from 10 days in Idaho to six years in Tennessee.  Laws in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Louisiana also provide for suspension of a violators’ driver’s license in certain cases. Penalties in all states typically increase for subsequent convictions.

The table below summarizes state penalties for littering. Please refer to the specific state statutes for definitions of littering and other information.

STATE

CITATION

PENALTIES

Alabama

Ala. Code §13A-7-29

Class C misdemeanor. First conviction: $250 minimum fine. Subsequent convictions: $500 fine

Alaska

Alaska Stat. §46.06.080

Up to $1,000 fine, with possibility of litter cleanup. $50 fine for citations issued by peace officer.

Arizona

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §13-1603

Class 6 felony for amounts of litter exceeding 300 pounds or 100 cubic feet or any quantity for commercial gain (§13-701). Class 1 misdemeanor for amounts of litter exceeding 100 pounds but less than 300 pounds, and not for commercial gain. Also applies for littering within 50 feet of a highway, public beach or shoreline. Fines up to $2,500 (§13-802).

Arkansas

Ark. Stat. Ann. §8-6-404

Misdemeanor. First conviction: fine between $100 and $1,000, and eight hours community service. Subsequent convictions within three years: fine between $200 and $2,000, and 24 hours community service. Violators may also be ordered to remove highway litter.

California

Cal. Vehicle Code §42001.7

First conviction: fine between $100 and $1,000, and at least eight hours of litter cleanup. Second conviction: fine between $500 and $1,000, and at least 16 hours of litter cleanup. Subsequent convictions: fine between $750 and $1,000, and at least 24 hours of litter cleanup.

Colorado

Colo. Rev. Stat. §18-4-511

Class 2 petty offense. First conviction: fine between $20 and $500. Second conviction: fine between $50 and $1,000. Subsequent convictions: fine between $100 and $1,000.   

Connecticut

Conn. Gen. Stat. §22A-250

Fine of up to $199. If littering on public land, there is a surcharge equal to 50 percent of the fine.

Delaware

Del. Code Ann. tit. 16, §1605

First conviction: minimum fine of $50 and up to eight hours community service. Second conviction within two years: minimum fine of $75 and up to 25 hours community service.

If the offense occurred on or along a Delaware byway, as defined in §101(a)(9) of Title 17, an additional penalty of $500 must be imposed for every first, second, and subsequent offense.

Florida

Fla. Stat. §403.413

Noncriminal infraction for litter amounts not exceeding 15 pounds or 27 cubic feet and not for commercial gain. Punishable by a civil penalty of $100. The court may also require litter cleanup. First degree misdemeanor for amounts greater than 15 pounds or 27 cubic feet, but not exceeding 500 pounds or 100 cubic feet in volume and not for commercial purposes. Punishable by imprisonment up to one year (§775.082) and/or fine up to $1,000 (§775.083). The violator will also be required to pick up litter or perform other community service.

For convictions involving littering from a motor vehicle, a penalty of three points will be recorded on the violator’s driver’s license.

Georgia

Ga. Code §16-7-43

Misdemeanor. Fine up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year (§17-10-3). Violators may also be required to pick up litter over a distance not to exceed one mile. The court may publish the names of persons convicted under the statute.

Hawaii

Hawaii Rev. Stat. §708-829

Petty misdemeanor. Fine between $500 and $1,000. First conviction: four hours community service of litter cleanup. Subsequent convictions: eight hours community service or litter cleanup.

Idaho

Idaho Code §18-7031

If littering on public or private property, misdemeanor punishable by up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine up to $1000, with the possibility of eight to 40 hours litter cleanup.

 

Idaho Code §18-3906

If littering on a public highway, street, or alley: fine up to $300 or imprisonment up to ten days.

Illinois

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 415, §105/1 et seq.

First conviction: class B misdemeanor, fine up to $1,500. Second conviction: class A misdemeanor, fine up to $1,500. Subsequent convictions: class 4 felony, fine of $25,000 and imprisonment between one and three years (ch. 415, §5/5-8-1). If convicted of littering on a public highway, the violator may, in addition to other penalties, be required to maintain litter control for 30 days over a portion of that highway.

Indiana

Ind. Code §35-45-3-2

Class B infraction punishable by a fine up to $1,000 (§34-28-5-4(b)). For littering within 100 feet of a body of water, class A infraction punishable by a fine up to $1,000.

Iowa

Iowa Code §455B.363 et seq.

Simple misdemeanor. Fine between $65 and $625 and/or imprisonment up to 30 days (§903.1). Violators may also be required to perform litter cleanup, in lieu of or in addition to any other sentence imposed (§455B.364).

Kansas

Kan. Stat. Ann. §21-5815

Misdemeanor. First conviction: fine between $250 and $1,000. Second conviction: fine between $1,000 and $2,000. Third conviction: fine between $2,000 and $4000. In all cases, requirement to pick up litter for a certain length of time.

Kentucky

Ky. Rev. Stat. §512.070

Class A misdemeanor. Fine up to $500 (§534.040).

Louisiana

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §30:2531

First conviction of intentional littering: fine between $500 and $1,000, and eight hours community service in a litter abatement program. Second conviction: fine between $1,000 and $2,500, and 24 hours community service. Subsequent convictions: fine between $1,500 and $5,000, and either one year driver’s license suspension, imprisonment for up to 30 days, or 48 to 100 hours in a litter abatement program.

First conviction for simple littering: $75 fine or eight hours community service. Subsequent convictions: $500 or 16 hours community service. Those convicted must also pay for or repair any property damage and pay all investigative costs.

Maine

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17, §2264-A

First conviction for amounts up to 15 pounds or 27 cubic feet: fine between $100 and $500.  Subsequent convictions: fine between $200 and $500. For amounts more than 15 pounds: fine between $200 and $500. Subsequent convictions: fine between $500 and $1,000. For amounts greater than 500 pounds or 100 cubic feet for a commercial purpose: fine between $2,500 and $25,000 for each day of the violation, with the minimum amount for knowing violations at $5,000 for each day of violation. The court may also require litter cleanup, payment of damages, public service, and/or license suspension. (See tit. 38, §349).

Maryland

Md. Criminal Code Ann. §10-110

Misdemeanor. For amounts of litter not exceeding 100 pounds or 27 cubic feet and not for commercial gain: fine up to $1,500, imprisonment up to 30 days, or both. For amounts exceeding 100 pounds or 27 cubic feet, but not exceeding 500 pounds or 216 cubic feet, and not for commercial gain:  fine up to $12,500, imprisonment up to one year, or both. For amounts exceeding 500 pounds or 216 cubic feet or in any amount for commercial gain: fine up to $30,000, imprisonment up to five years, or both. The court may also require cleanup, repair or payment of damages, community service, and suspension of driver's license.

Massachusetts

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 270, §16

First conviction: fine up to $5,500. Subsequent convictions: fine up to $15,000. The court may also require that the violator remove the litter, at his own expense. 50 percent of any fine imposed is deposited in the conservation trust.

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 161, §94A

(Littering at a public transportation facility after warning) Fine of up to $25 with possible arrest and confinement for up to 24 hours prior to court appearance.

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 90, §22G

Allows the registrar to suspend for up to seven days the driver’s license or permit of any person who litters, or who knowingly permits occupants of his vehicle to litter.

Michigan

Mich. Comp. Laws §324.8902 et seq.

Civil Infraction. Litter amounts less than one cubic foot: fine up to $800. Litter amounts greater than one cubic foot but less than three cubic feet: fine up to $1,500. Litter amounts greater than three cubic feet: fine up to $2,500 for first conviction and up to $5,000 for subsequent convictions. (See 324.8905a). For litter thrown into the path of a moving vehicle on a highway, misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, fine up to $500, or both (§324.8903). In addition to penalties, the court may also require violators to pay for the cost of litter removal and any property damage (§324.8905b).

Littering of material produced at a health facility is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment up to six months, fine up to $1,000, or both. Litter that involves infectious waste or pathological waste is a felony punishable by imprisonment up to 2 years, fine of up to $5,000, or both. Subsequent convictions punishable by imprisonment between one and five years and fine up to $10,000 (§324.8905).

Minnesota

Minn. Stat. §115A.99

Civil penalty of two to five times the cost incurred by a state agency or political subdivision to remove, process, and dispose of the waste.

 

Minn. Stat. §169.42

(Littering on any street or highway) Misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment and/or fine at court’s discretion. Subsequent convictions: minimum fine of $400. The court may also order violators to pick up litter for four to eight hours. All convictions are included in person’s driving record. Drivers may also face civil penalties and an action for damages (§169.421).

 

Minn. Stat. §609.68

(Littering on any public highway or waters). Petty misdemeanor punishable by fine at court’s discretion.

 

Minn. Stat. §609.855

(Littering while riding public transit after warning) Misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment and/or fine at court’s discretion.

Mississippi

Miss. Code Ann. §97-15-29

First conviction: fine between $50 and $250, with the option of community service, payment of damages, removal of waste, and payment of agency costs. Subsequent convictions: minimum and maximum fines doubled.

Missouri

Mo. Rev. Stat. §577.070

Class A misdemeanor. $1,000 fine and imprisonment up to one year (§558.011).

Montana

Mont. Code Ann. §7-5-2109

Fine up to $200. Not punishable by imprisonment.

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. Stat. §28-523

First conviction is a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to three months imprisonment, $500 fine, or both. Second conviction is a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months imprisonment, $1,000 fine, or both. Subsequent conviction is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to one year imprisonment, $1,000 fine, or both (see §28-106).

Nevada

Nev. Rev. Stat. §202.185

Misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,000, imprisonment up to six months, or both.

New Hampshire

N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §163-B:3 et seq.

Misdemeanor. Imprisonment up to one year and fine up to $2,000 (§651:2); or, at court's discretion, conviction may require time spent cleaning the area where littering occurred. The court may publish the names of convicted persons.

New Jersey

N.J. Rev. Stat. §13:1E-99.3

Petty offense. First conviction: fine between $100 and $500, with option of 20 to 40 hours community service.  Second conviction within six months: fine between $250 and $1,000, with option of 40 to 80 hours community service or up to 60 days imprisonment.

New Mexico

N.M. Stat. Ann. §30-8-4

Petty misdemeanor. Fine up to $500, six months imprisonment, or both (§31-19-1). In addition to or in lieu of imprisonment, community service litter cleanup in area littering occurred.

New York

N.Y. Vehicle and Transit Law §1220

(Littering on highways and adjacent lands) First conviction: fine up to $350 and/or a requirement to perform services for a public or not-for-profit corporation, association, institution or agency not to exceed 10 hours. Subsequent convictions:  fine up to $700 and/or a requirement to perform services for a public or not-for-profit corporation, association, institution or agency not to exceed 15 hours.

 

N.Y. Railroad Law §52-e

(Littering on railway or subway tracks) First conviction: fine up to $250 and/or community service for up to eight hours. Subsequent convictions punishable by a fine up to $500 and/or community service for up to eight hours. Fines are deposited in the New York subway littering prevention fund.

North Carolina

N.C. Gen. Stat. §14-399

Class 3 misdemeanor. For amounts of litter not exceeding 15 pounds and not for commercial gain: fine between $250 and $1,000 for first conviction, with possible eight to 24 hours community service. Subsequent convictions: fine between $500 and $2,000, with possible 16 to 50 hours community service. For amounts exceeding 15 pounds but not exceeding 500 pounds and not for commercial gain: fine between $500 and $2,000, with possible 24 to 100 hours community service.

North Dakota

N.D. Cent. Code §23-29-05.1

Infraction with a minimum fine of $100. If litter amounts to more than one cubic foot in volume or consisted of furniture or a major appliance, the offense is a class B misdemeanor. Maximum penalty of 30 days’ imprisonment, a fine of $1,500, or both, may be imposed (§12.1-32-03.1).

Ohio

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §3767.32

Third degree misdemeanor. The court may, in addition to or in lieu of the penalty provided, require violators to remove litter from any public or private property, or in waters of the state (§3767.99).

Oklahoma

Okla. Stat. tit. 21, §1761.1

Misdemeanor. Fine between $200 and $5,000, imprisonment for up to thirty days, or both. Violators must also pay damages or clean up the property affected.

Oregon

Or. Rev. Stat. §164.785

Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $6,250, imprisonment up to one year, or both (§161.615).

Pennsylvania

Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 18, §6501

First offense: summary offense, fine between $50 and $300, imprisonment up to 90 days, or both. Subsequent offenses: third degree misdemeanor, fine between $300 and $1,000. May also be sentenced to imprisonment or required to perform up to one year community service.

 

Pa. Cons. Stat. tit. 75, §3709

Littering from a vehicle is punishable by a fine up to $900, litter cleanup for a certain number of hours, or both.

Rhode Island

R.I. Gen. Laws §37-15-6 et seq.

First conviction: fine between $85 and $500. In addition to or in lieu of the fine, violators may be ordered to pick up litter for two to 25 hours. Subsequent convictions: fine between $300 and $500. In addition to or in lieu of the fine, violators may be ordered to pick up litter for four to 50 hours.  Violators are also liable for cleanup costs.

South Carolina

S.C. Code Ann. §16-11-700

Misdemeanor. For amounts of litter less than 15 pounds or 27 cubic feet: fine of $200 or up to 30 days imprisonment for first or second conviction. Subsequent convictions: fine of $500 or up to 30 days imprisonment. The court may also impose eight hours of litter cleanup for first conviction, 16 hours for second conviction, and 24 hours for subsequent convictions.

South Dakota

S.D. Codified Laws Ann. §34A-7-6 et seq.

Class 2 misdemeanor. Fine of $500, imprisonment for 30 days, or both. In addition to the penalties provided, litter weighing more than five pounds is punishable by a fine up to $1,000, of which 20 percent must be paid to any person who provides information that leads to the conviction of the offender (§34A-7-17). In addition, the court must order violators to litter cleanup.

Tennessee

Tenn. Code Ann. §39-14-503 et seq.

Litter weighing less than five pounds is a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $50, imprisonment up to 30 days, or both, and up to 40 hours community service. The court may also require work in a recycling center up to eight hours. Litter weighing between five and 10 pounds is a class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500, six months imprisonment, or both, and up to 80 hours community service. The court may also require work in a recycling center up to eight hours. Litter weighing more than 10 pounds or for any commercial purpose is a class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $2,500, imprisonment up to 11 months and 29 days, or both. If third conviction in any amount exceeding 10 pounds or upon the second conviction in any amount exceeding 1,000 pounds or in any amount for any commercial purpose, class E felony. Imprisonment between one year and six years, and possible fine up to $3,000. The court must also require community service litter removal for up to 160 hours. (see §40-35-111)

Texas

Tex. Health & Safety Code §365.012

Litter weighing five pounds or less is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500. If between five and 500 pounds, class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500, imprisonment up to 30 days, or both. If between 500 and 1,000 pounds or for a commercial purpose, class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $4,000, imprisonment up to one year, or both. State jail felony if the litter to which the offense applies: (1) weighs 1,000 pounds or more; (2) disposed of for a commercial purpose and weighs 200 pounds or more; or (3) contained in a closed barrel or drum. Punishable by imprisonment up to two years and a fine up to $10,000. (See Tex. Penal Code §12.21 et seq.)

Utah

Utah Code Ann. §73-18A-2

Class B misdemeanor. Minimum fine of $100.

Vermont

Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 24, §2201A

Civil violation. Fine up to $200 or a maximum of 40 hours work collecting trash or litter from roadsides or other public property.

Virginia

Va. Code §33.1-346

Misdemeanor.  Punishable by a fine between $250 and $2,500, imprisonment up to 12 months, or both. In lieu of jail, the court may order community service in litter abatement activities.

Washington

Wash. Rev. Code §70.93.060

Civil infraction for amounts equal to one cubic foot or less. Punishable by a fine of $50 (§7.80.120). Misdemeanor for amounts between one cubic foot and one cubic yard. Punishable by a fine up to $1,000, imprisonment up to 90 days, or both (§9.92.030). Violators must also pay a litter cleanup restitution payment equal to twice the actual cost of cleanup, or $50 per cubic foot of litter, whichever is greater. The court may, in addition to or in lieu of part or all of the payment, order the person to pick up litter.

Gross misdemeanor for litter amounts of one cubic yard or more. Punishable by a fine up to $5,000, imprisonment up to one year, or both (§9.92.020). Violators must also pay a litter cleanup restitution payment equal to twice the actual cost of cleanup, or $100 per cubic foot of litter, whichever is greater. The court may, in addition to or in lieu of part or all of the payment, order the person to pick up litter.

West Virginia

W. Va. Code §22-15A-4

Misdemeanor. For amounts not exceeding 100 pounds or 27 cubic feet: fine between $100 and $1,000, community service for eight to 16 hours, or both. For amounts greater than 100 pounds or 27 cubic feet, but less than 500 pounds or 216 cubic feet: fine between $1,000 and $2,000, community service for 16 to 32 hours, or both. For amounts greater than 500 pounds or 216 cubic feet or any amount which had been collected for commercial purposes: fine between $2,500 and $25,000, imprisonment for up to one year, or both. For subsequent violations: double the authorized range of fines and community service.

Wisconsin

Wis. Stat. §287.81

Fine up to $500. For litter involving a large item, such as furniture or an appliance, fine up to $1000.

Wyoming

Wyo. Stat. §6-3-204

Misdemeanor. Imprisonment for up to six months, fine of up to $750, or both. In lieu of this sentence, a court may require up to 40 hours of community service.

Littering involving the disposal of a container with bodily fluids along a highway right of way is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment up to nine months, fine up to $1,000, or both. In lieu of this sentence, a court may require up to 40 hours of litter cleanup from public roads, parks or other public areas.

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