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Fairfax, Leesburg & Loudoun, Virginia

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Doug Landau
Doug Landau
Attorney • (866) 735-1102 Ext 610

Don't want to see your butts – it's dangerous AND against the law

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Having seen far too many lit cigarette butts tossed from truck and cars, and seen the devastation caused when they ignite dry grass or cause other rivers to swerve suddenly, I was glad to see that there is law aimed at such dangerous drivers and polluters. If you are also offended by the thousands of cigarette butts that have accumulated at every intersection along the Fairfax County Parkway or wondered if smokers purposefully by cars without ashtrays, you may want to look at Virginia Code section 33.1-346.1.

Dumping trash, companion animals, etc., on highway, right-of-way or private property; penalty.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to dump or otherwise dispose of trash, garbage, refuse, litter, a companion animal for the purpose of disposal, or other unsightly matter, on public property, including a public highway, right-of-way, property adjacent to such highway or right-of-way, or on private property without the written consent of the owner thereof or his agent.

B. When any person is arrested for a violation of this section, and the matter alleged to have been illegally dumped or disposed of has been ejected from a motor vehicle or transported to the disposal site in a motor vehicle, the arresting officer may comply with the provisions of § 46.2-936 in making such arrest.

When a violation of the provisions of this section has been observed by any person, and the matter illegally dumped or disposed of has been ejected or removed from a motor vehicle, the owner or operator of such motor vehicle shall be presumed to be the person ejecting or disposing of such matter. However, such presumption shall be rebuttable by competent evidence.

C. Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not less than $250 or more than $2,500, either or both.

In lieu of the imposition of confinement in jail, the court may order the defendant to perform community service in litter abatement activities.

Given that this is a Class 1 misdemeanor, it would probably result in a criminal record. I have no problem with an adult’s freedom to make bad decisions, so long as they do not adversely affect the health, safety and welfare of those around them. I especially like the idea of all the "butt heads" having to clean up the roads they have so polluted. If it is so disgusting a habit, then why do you think your fellow travelers and neighbors want to see, smell, step on or taste your butts ?!!? Under this section of the Virginia Code, for throwing a cigarette butt out of the window of the car one of these "Beavises" could get 12 months and/or up to a $2,500 fine!! Hopefully this law is being enforced. On my own commute home from our Herndon law firm, I see a half a dozen "butt tossers." Just think of the revenue that could be raised to close the budget gap !