The next time someone litters out a car window or dumps trash along roadways or area countryside, the offender could face steep fines, community service and possible jail time.
The Alabama state legislature recently upgraded littering from a Class C to Class B misdemeanor. Now littering could land a person fines from $500 to $3,000, or even up to six months in jail.
The new law doubles the fine from $250, when it was a Class C misdemeanor, for the first offense and increases subsequent fines up to $3,000 or 100 hours of community service.
Elmore County resident Keith McCartney thinks it will take more than updating the laws on the books to stop people from dumping trash along Jug Factory Road where he lives.
“With the new law, everyone has to do their part,” McCartney said. “Everyone out here has to report to law enforcement. Law enforcement needs to follow up on the reports. The media needs to let the public know about the new law.”
McCartney said he has lost count the number of times he reported trash dumped on the side of the road over the years.
“Dumping in rural areas has just gotten awful,” he said. “I constantly call the county to pick up items like couches, refrigerators and bags of trash. The county is great at responding to my calls and picking up what was dumped, but it is going to take everyone doing their jobs and making examples out of the people dumping for this to change.”
The law allows for the return of some of the fines to local municipalities for enforcement and to educate the public about litter.
“My position is I’m on a board to improve the litter situation in the county,” Elmore County commissioner Kenny Holt said. “As a county commission, we will do what we can to help the situation.”
The new law also expands what is considered litter to include plastics, cigarettes, cigars, food containers and tires to the list of things considered litter, and it expands protection against littering into all rivers, lakes and territorial waters.
“I am glad to see Alabama put more teeth into this law,” Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin said.
The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Margie Wilcox and made active Sept. 1.