LITTERING

THE LAW

Littering is a popular offense among college students. Common scenarios are when a police officer witnesses you throw trash down outside of a party, or trash is left outside of your own house (despite whether you were the actual culprit). Ohio Revised Code 3767.32 specifically states:

"(A) No person, regardless of intent, shall deposit litter or cause litter to be deposited on any public property, on private property not owned by the person, or in or on waters of the state unless one of the following applies:

  • (1) The person is directed to do so by a public official as part of a litter collection drive;
  • (2) Except as provided in division (B) of this section, the person deposits the litter in a litter receptacle in a manner that prevents its being carried away by the elements;
  • (3) The person is issued a permit or license covering the litter pursuant to Chapter 3734. or 6111. of the Revised Code.

(B) No person, without privilege to do so, shall knowingly deposit litter, or cause it to be deposited, in a litter receptacle located on any public property or on any private property not owned by the person unless one of the following applies: 

  • (1) The litter was generated or located on the property on which the litter receptacle is located;
  • (2) The person is directed to do so by a public official as part of a litter collection drive;
  • (3) The person is directed to do so by a person whom the person reasonably believes to have the privilege to use the litter receptacle;
  • (4) The litter consists of any of the following: 
    • (a) The contents of a litter bag or container of a type and size customarily carried and used in a motor vehicle;
    • (b) The contents of an ash tray of a type customarily installed or carried and used in a motor vehicle;
    • (c) Beverage containers and food sacks, wrappings, and containers of a type and in an amount that reasonably may be expected to be generated during routine commuting or business or recreational travel by a motor vehicle;
    • (d) Beverage containers, food sacks, wrappings, containers, and other materials of a type and in an amount that reasonably may be expected to be generated during a routine day by a person and deposited in a litter receptacle by a casual passerby.

(C)

  • (1) As used in division (B)(1) of this section, "public property" includes any private property open to the public for the conduct of business, the provision of a service, or upon the payment of a fee, but does not include any private property to which the public otherwise does not have a right of access.
  • (2) As used in division (B)(4) of this section, "casual passerby" means a person who does not have depositing litter in a litter receptacle as the person's primary reason for traveling to or by the property on which the litter receptacle is located."

With regard to a driver or passenger of a car, Ohio Revised Code 4511.82 specifically states: 

"(A) No operator or occupant of a motor vehicle shall, regardless of intent, throw, drop, discard, or deposit litter from any motor vehicle in operation upon any street, road, or highway, except into a litter receptacle in a manner that prevents its being carried away or deposited by the elements. 

(B) No operator of a motor vehicle in operation upon any street, road, or highway shall allow litter to be thrown, dropped, discarded, or deposited from the motor vehicle, except into a litter receptacle in a manner that prevents its being carried away or deposited by the elements. 

(C) Whoever violates division (A) or (B) of this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. 

(D) As used in this section, "litter" means garbage, trash, waste, rubbish, ashes, cans, bottles, wire, paper, cartons, boxes, automobile parts, furniture, glass, or anything else of an unsightly or unsanitary nature."

THE PUNISHMENT

Littering (not when in a vehicle) is a third degree misdemeanor. It is punishable up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, plus court costs. You could also be sentenced to, ironically, picking up litter. Littering from a car is a minor misdemeanor, carrying a maximum fine of $150, plus court costs. 

TIPS TO AVOID CONVICTION

  • Dispose of trash in proper receptacles;
  • If you host an outdoor party, provide numerous trash receptacles for attendees;
  • Clean up your property immediately after a party;
  • Do not throw trash out of a car window; and
  • Call your lawyer if you have any questions!

We provide no charge issue assessments at your place or ours. Call/text Leslie at 614.403.7356 or email Leslie@AWLawOhio.com