TEXAS (NEXSTAR) – If you live in Texas, you might have seen someone toss something out of their car window. Besides being rude, is it ever legal?
Texas Department of Transportation Information Specialist Tanya Brown said litter is defined as trash that is not disposed of properly in a trash can. She said the following qualifies as undeniable litter, and therefore should never be tossed out a car window:
- Cigarette butts
- Gum and gum wrappers — anything less than two square inches is considered micro-litter, a growing problem on Texas roadways
- Apple cores, banana peels, and other fruit – despite being compostable. There are specific bins for that and therefore considered litter if not disposed of that way
- Trash that flies out of a car window or truck bed — accidentally or otherwise
There is a single exception to the rule. You can only toss liquid from a drink out the window. Dropping anything else out of your vehicle would qualify as “littering,” which is illegal in the state.
Texas law clearly prohibits the act of littering, stating someone is littering if they dispose, allow, or permit the disposal of litter or other solid waste at a place that is not an approved solid waste site. This restriction includes “a place on or within 300 feet of a public highway, on a right-of-way, on other public or private property, or into inland or coastal water of the state.”
There are severe fines for littering, according to the Don’t Mess With Texas website. You can face a fine of up to $500, up to 30 days in jail, or both if you litter less than or equal to five pounds or five gallons. The punishment for repeat offenses can reach $2,000 in fines and 180 days in jail. The fine for illegal dumping is worse if the trash weighs more than five pounds.
If you fail to cover a load in your truck, you could be fined up to $200 for your first offense and $500 for a subsequent offense.
In other words, if you’re considering tossing anything but liquid out the window, you’re better off holding onto it and dumping it at the closest garbage can.