Gov. Henry McMaster has signed legislation that revises state litter laws to give officers and the courts greater flexibility in the prosecution of litter cases. The new law also makes it easier to achieve court-ordered community service/litter pick up by removing the requirement for supervision.
McMaster signed Act 214 of 2018, amending Section 16-11-700 of the South Carolina Code of Laws which regulates the state’s litter laws.
Littering in South Carolina has been a popular topic in recent years as social media has given a voice to the many concerned citizens who are frustrated with the amount of trash thrown out on our roadways and the amount of unsecured loads along our highways. Members of the General Assembly and local governments have taken an interest in the subject and are passionately engaging how we address littering in the state.
“Today, Gov. McMaster opened our law enforcement tool box a little wider for those of us who tirelessly work to protect our state’s beauty and cleanliness”, said Jamie Nelson, Director of Environmental Enforcement for Spartanburg County.
Nelson represented the South Carolina Litter Control Association (SCLCA) during the legislative process. SCLCA is comprised of litter and code enforcement officers specifically assigned to handle litter concerns.
“We have heard the concerns of law enforcement entities about the fines and from judges in upholding the fines or assigning community service,” said Nelson. “Act 214 takes away those barriers. There are no excuses anymore for not writing the tickets.”
Defining categories for litter and illegal dumping, assigning appropriate fines and allowing for more litter pickup as the community service requirement is vital for real change in litter control enforcement. Greater discretion for fines to “fit the crime” will allow for more officer participation in enforcing litter laws.
“We understand that some law enforcement agencies don’t have resources to commit to full-time litter control, but for the sake of our communities and economic opportunities, we can’t afford to not enforce littering violations,” said Sarah Lyles, executive Director of PalmettoPride.
A Summary of Act 214
• Up to 15 pounds — Persons convicted of placing litter, as defined, on public or private property must remove that litter and shall be fined not less than $25 and not more than $100, or up to 30 days in jail, and the court must impose eight hours of “litter gathering or other form of community service.”
• Between 15 and 500 pounds (illegal dumping) — Persons convicted must be fined not less than $200 nor more than and and $500, or up to 30 days in jail, and the court shall require 16 hours of litter gathering or other community service. Community service increases to 24 hours upon a second conviction, and 32 hours for a third conviction within five years.
• More than 500 pounds (illegal dumping) — Persons convicted must be fined not less than $500 nor more than $1,000, and up to a year in jail. The violator also may be ordered to remove the dumped litter, pay damages, and perform community service. Fines for dumping more than 500 lbs of litter may not be suspended.
• Other provisions — This act defines litter and illegal dumping as separate offenses which caused confusion when enforcing violations on both public and private owned properties. The new law makes it easier to achieve court-ordered community service/litter pick up by removing the requirement for supervision. The litter gathering community service portion of the penalty may not be suspended, except the court may, upon request, accept an additional monetary penalty equal to $15 per hour in lieu of the community service. Probation may be granted only due to physical or other incapacities.