I’m glad to hear so many of our residents are bothered by the litter problem in Gainesville and Hall County. After reading the letters, I did some research on Georgia laws against dumping and littering.
There is a law in Georgia’s Criminal Code (O.C.G.A. 16-7-40 et seq. and 16-7-50 et seq) that prohibits leaving litter or dump waste on any public or private property, including highways, streets, alleys, parks, lawns, fields and forests, or leaving litter or dump waste on any public or private waters. Anyone caught littering in Georgia can be charged with a misdemeanor and, if found guilty, can be punished by a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000. The law also allows the court to direct the violator to clean up the littered area and to publish the violator’s name in the newspaper.
Anyone caught illegally dumping less than 500 pounds of waste can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined. Each day a continuing violation occurs is considered a separate violation. Dumping more than 500 pounds is considered a misdemeanor on the first offense. A second conviction is a felony. The penalty for a second conviction is a fine of up to $25,000 or a prison sentence of up to two years (or both).
What can we do?
• The “Vehicle Litter Incident Report” is a program whereby concerned citizens can fill out a form, supplied by Keep Hall Beautiful or any of the local law enforcement agencies, to report observed incidents of littering from vehicles. The tag number, date and place of the violation are taken down and a series of checkboxes, which provide information identifying the vehicle and the violator, are filled out.
The form is sent to the Keep Hall Beautiful office, where the information is reviewed and sent to the proper law enforcement agency for processing. The violator is then contacted about the incident. This report is an education tool, because no case can be made in court because of the lack of prosecutable evidence.
• Take a plastic grocery store bag with you when you take a walk. Pick up some of the litter (including your doggie’s) and properly dispose of it when you get home.
• Throw one of those dirty glares, that we’re all so good at doing, at anyone you see just tossing something out of their car or dropping that fast-food wrapper and drink container on the ground as they keep walking. Put a guilt trip on ’em!