Can you be fined for dropping a cigarette?
Posted on 14th January 2020
It can be tempting to just smoke your cigarette and throw the end across the street – you landed it pretty close to that drain: good enough, right?
Well, if you’re going to lob the end across the road without giving it another thought, make sure you know if it’s worth it.
What a lot of people may not know, is that dropping your cigarette butt on the floor (over 6 million are dropped on the floor yearly in London alone!) is actually a criminal offence in the UK, and could land with you a huge fine.
As dropping a cigarette butt falls under the same category as littering, dog fouling and fly tipping, the council, as well as police officers, police community support officers and street environment officers, can issue you a fixed penalty notice on the spot. The on-the-spot fine can range from £50.00 to £150.00; however if a set amount is not stipulated by your local council, the default is right, smack-bang in the middle: £100.00.
If you refuse to provide your details to the police officer (or equivalent persons), or you refuse to pick up the butt (or, similarly, your litter), you can be taken to Court, where the fine could cost you thousands!
In a case a few years ago, young mum, Chelsie Lawton, was spotted stubbing out a cigarette butt by an environmental crime officer, who issued her with an £80.00 on-the-spot fine.
After failing to make payment of the fine, Chelsie was summoned to North Staffordshire Justice Centre and was ordered to pay a total fine of £1,172.10.
In more recent cases, Debbie Lupton from Preston was found guilty of dropping a cigarette in Nelson, and was ordered to pay a fine of £220.00, a £30.00 surcharge and £168.00 in costs. Likewise, Deborah Raymond, also from Preston, was found guilty of dropping a cigarette in Garstang, and was fined the same amount.
You may be thinking: ‘that’s ridiculous! I’ll appeal my fine’. Well, there’s currently no formal process to appeal a Fixed Penalty Notice. Instead, it is instead a chance to ‘pay off’ your charges before you face criminal prosecution. If you decide that you really don’t think you were in the wrong, you can refuse to pay; although, our team of solicitors in Preston would not recommend doing this, as you could face charges of up to £2,500.00 in Court if you don’t win your case!
If you intend to refuse to pay on the basis of there being no available bins or signs preventing littering, stop right there. Local authorities are not required to place bins or signs on every street; if these are not available, it’s up to you to act responsibly and to either take your rubbish home, or you can reach a bin.
Whatever you decide to do about your fine, make sure that you think of the planet. Most cigarette butts are non-biodegradable and, whilst most of them will breakdown relatively quickly, are quite unsightly!
Our team of solicitors in Preston urge you: please don’t litter with your butts!
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