South Carolina police crack down on littering this week

Litter has always been a problem, but why do South Carolina roadways look so much worse these days?
Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 3:58 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 1:22 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Highway Patrol and other transportation police plan a crackdown this week on litter.

Today, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety announced authorities across the state will increase focus on litter crimes as a partnership with PalmettoPride during the Great South Carolina Cleanup Week.

Authorities say state troopers will concentrate on people who throw trash out of their vehicles, while the State Transport Police will focus on litter and debris that fall out of commercial trucks.

“We want to send a clear enforcement message that litter not only trashes our beautiful state, it’s also illegal,” SCHP Col. Christopher Williamson said according to a PalmettoPride news release. “The Highway Patrol will be particularly vigilant for littering violations, especially around interstates, entrance and exit ramps and trash collection points where people throw trash from their vehicles or let it blow out of their vehicles.”

The increased efforts follow a year when litter has become a major issue across the Palmetto State. Authorities say the state’s litter problem was sparked by the onset of the pandemic.

As the coronavirus continues to spread, the state has remained without a valuable resource in the fight against litter. Work crews with the South Carolina Department of Corrections, normally tasked with picking up trash along roadways, continues to be placed on hold to prevent outbreaks in South Carolina’s jails and prisons.

In 2019, inmates cleaned 15,027 total miles of the state’s roadways and collected 107,282 bags of litter, according to data from the SCDC.

To curb the growth of litter, groups like PalmettoPride have increased litter pickup efforts. The group is organizing roadside trash pickup this week.

PalmettoPride says about 80% of littering in South Carolina is intentional and that 21% of roadway litter comes from unsecured loads.

“In addition to trashing our roadways, litter or debris that falls from vehicles poses a serious traffic hazard,” Col. Dean Dill of the State Transport Police said in a news release. “We want drivers to be aware that the Highway Patrol and State Transport Police will be working together to curb littering in our state, and we will be writing tickets for anyone we see littering.”

A littering conviction carries a maximum fine of $100 plus court assessments or 30 days in jail for up to 15 pounds of litter, along with eight hours of litter gathering or another form of community service. Littering between 15 and 500 pounds carries a fine of up to $500, 30 days in jail and 16 hours of community service; the community service increases to 24 hours for a second conviction and 32 hours for a third conviction. More than 500 pounds of litter carries a maximum fine of $1,000, up to a year in jail and community service.

Authorities have a hotline to report littering at 1-877-7LITTER. Callers will be asked for the license plate, the time and location of the littering.

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