Ask the Motor Cop | Smokers throwing butts is no joke 


Question: Jerry, I see a lot of people throwing cigarette butts anywhere and everywhere. I’m sure there is an ordinance that doesn’t allow this. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but I still see it. It seems like no one ever does anything about it. Can you please help me understand this? 

— Lorrie 

Answer: Hi Lorrie, thanks for being a reader and offering your concern regarding what you observe. California Vehicle Code 23111 states, “No person in any vehicle and no pedestrian shall throw or discharge from or upon any road or highway or adjoining area, public or private, any lighted or non-lighted cigarette, cigar, match or any flaming or glowing substance.”  

Remember that this law includes the words, “or any pedestrian.” 

This law can be difficult to enforce as the police officer must observe the violation. You may think that this act goes unpunished most all the time. And maybe it does. 

Believe me, if any law enforcement officer on routine patrol observes someone throwing a cigarette from a vehicle, that officer will most likely initiate a traffic stop. The last I heard, the fine was $700 and that doesn’t include any penalty assessments, plus the violator must complete 10 to 12 hours of community service. How’s that for a fine? And the second offense is worse. 

The airport police cite for this frequently. People are usually quite bewildered receiving a citation in an airport terminal for a vehicle code violation. It is enforced, Lorrie, you just don’t see it. 

Jerry Schlund, a Santa Clarita Valley resident, is a retired Los Angeles Police Department motor officer with over 24 years riding. He was a certified radar instructor — both laser and doppler — and was instrumental in California vehicle code amendments. He was a traffic school instructor for 25 years. Have a question for the motor cop? Send your questions to [email protected]     

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