In Arizona, throwing a cigarette butt out of a car window while driving on the freeway can nab litterers a class 1 misdemeanor and a $500 fine.
According to A.R.S. 13-1603, all littering that happens without being within 50 feet of a highway (or beach, for that matter) makes for a class 2 misdemeanor.
The penalties may seem harsh – but according to a 2009 Keep American Beautiful Study, Arizona spends around $3 million on cleaning up litter every year. ADOT crews pick up about 110,000 bags of trash per year.
Paper and plastic products make up 41 percent of all highway litter. Cigarette butts (tobacco products make up 38 percent of roadway litter) in particular are a safety concern as they can cause fires.
Debris on roadways cause 25,000 accidents every year. Accidental littering, which is more common than purposeful littering and occurs when items are not properly tied down to vehicles, is a major contributor to roadway debris.
Several groups in the Verde Valley have taken to cleaning up litter, like Yavapai County Adopt-A-Highway and its 1500 local volunteers, along with Don’t Trash AZ.
Don’t Trash Arizona suggests doing the following to prevent highway litter:
• Keep a litterbag in your car at all times to ensure trash gets properly disposed
• Secure loads with straps, tarps and nets
• Properly maintain tires, especially in Arizona’s heat
• Keep a portable ashtray in the car and refrain from throwing butts out the window
Those who wish to volunteer to help clean up highways can obtain a two-year permit through the Arizona Department of Transportation.
All volunteers must complete a safety briefing and sign a volunteer registration form, available on www.azdot.gov
Littering can be reported at Don’t Trash AZ’s website [link: http://donttrashaz.com/highway-littering/report-a-violation/ ] or by calling the litter hotline toll free at 1 (877) 354-8837.