Keep Your Butts in the Ash Tray!: The Criminal Penalties Associated With Using the Road for Cigarette Disposal

 

Lighting up on the road can be a risky endeavor, yet we have all seen the car with the occasional smoke puff emanating from a cracked window. Perhaps you were the driver or passenger of that car. Although smoking (tobacco) while driving is currently not a punishable offense under Colorado law, discarding a lighted cigarette on a public roadway can lead to jail time, a substantial fine, and other criminal penalties.

 

Under Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1406, if you are caught flicking a lighted cigarette out your car window, you could be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor. Yes. A misdemeanor—the same type of crime that is charged in some theft and child abuse cases. A class 2 misdemeanor conviction carries with it a three to twelve month jail sentence and a $250 to $1000 fine. Additionally, several hours of community service can be tacked on to any misdemeanor sentence. Even more importantly, if your cigarette happens to spark a fire, you could be facing additional misdemeanor, or even felony, arson charges (and perhaps even unwanted, very public, media attention).

 

Therefore, consider the consequences before you toss your cigarette. The High Park fire, ablaze in Colorado’s northern foothills, coupled with the extreme heat and dry conditions Colorado’s news stations have been reporting serve as reminders of the fragile conditions of Colorado’s summer wonderland. A mindlessly tossed cigarette butt could easily lead to the next catastrophic inferno. Therefore, if you are a cigarette smoker, remember to keep your butts in the ash tray this summer, or else risk being the subject of criminal charges.

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