New Alabama litter laws come with steep fines and jail time

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HUNTSVILLE Ala. -- The next time you throw something out of your car window, you could also be throwing away a lot of money. Alabama's new litter law went into effect in September.  With it comes come steep fines, community service, and potential jail time.

Throw a cigarette butt on the ground, and Huntsville Police could throw you in jail.

"It actually can be an arrestable offense on the very first time," said Sergeant Grady Thigpen of the Huntsville Police Department. "We're very serious about this. It's not only with the city of Huntsville, but it's statewide."

The Alabama state legislature recently upgraded littering from a Class C to Class B misdemeanor. Now littering could land you fines from $500 to $3,000, or even up to six months in jail.

The law also includes mandatory community service, like picking up trash Huntsville's Operation Green Team.

"It doesn't take a whole lot of effort, but it's something that has a lot of bang for its buck," said George Martin, the Community Services Supervisor for Operation Green Team

They pick up bottles, cardboard, and a lot of trash that fly off the back of trucks that aren't properly tarped. The director of the Green Team says the most littered item in the world is cigarette butts.

"They don't biodegrade for up to 15 years. And also because they don't biodegrade, the same carcinogens that are at the end of that cigarette are going into our groundwater," said Joy McKee, the Director of Huntsville's Operation Green Team.

She said last year operation green team had over 60,000 volunteers helping clean up the city. Operation Green Team also has a Litter Hotline which they say is very active. They say if you see someone littering you can call them. Then the police will run the license plate and send a warning.

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