A court has upheld Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s (EPA) decision to fine a St Kilda man for throwing a lit cigarette butt out his car window.
The Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court has ruled the man must pay about $1,600 in court costs after a member of the public observed him throwing away a lit cigarette on Dandenong Road, Clayton.
EPA Executive Director of Regulatory Practice and Strategy Chris Webb said the man elected to challenge the $607 fine in court, claiming he didn’t smoke in his vehicle and therefore hadn’t committed the offence.
“That’s now proven to be an expensive exercise for the man who not only has to pay the $607 fine, but about $1600 in court costs as well,” Mr Webb said.
Mr Webb said the witness that reported the offence to EPA had supplied information such as the car’s registration number and description, where and when it occurred and the type of litter, which in this case was a lit cigarette.
“EPA verifies the details of each litter report against the VicRoads database and if the details match, an infringement is issued. If challenged, the reporter must be prepared to go to court and give evidence,” Mr Webb said.
“The court in this case has ruled in EPA’s favour and upheld the fine after the community member who witnessed the littering provided evidence in court. We would like to thank that person for making a report to us. This case really reinforces the importance of community reporting in holding litterers to account.
“Everyone issued with a litter fine has the right to request that EPA review the matter or to have it determined in court, and on this occasion the infringement was upheld.
“Littering pollutes our roadsides, chokes our waterways and can threaten our wildlife. And throwing lit cigarettes out your car window is a serious fire hazard, particularly in summer.”
People can report littering via EPA’s website, through its smartphone litter app, or by calling 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).
People will need the following information when reporting:
1. Who? Car details, registration number, colour, whether it was the driver or passenger, gender of litterer.
2. What? Lit or unlit cigarette or a description of the litter item.
3. When? Exact time and date of offence.
4. Where? Where was the car, what road was it travelling on, in which suburb? What intersection was closest?
5. How? How was litter deposited – was it thrown from vehicle, dropped before exiting/entering vehicle?
From 1 July 2016, EPA litter fines range from $311 for a small piece of rubbish or unlit cigarette right up to $622 for a lit cigarette. Last financial year EPA handed out over $6.5 million in fines to more than 15,000 Victorians for discarding litter from their vehicles.