Instant fines for litter-lout drivers

It has been estimated that one in five drivers toss litter from their car windows and if they don't clean up their act, they could soon find themselves facing instant fines, if a new law suggested by local government leaders is brought into action.

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Councils have demanded that traffic wardens and bin police are given the power to impose £80 fines on the owners of cars, vans and lorries that are seen littering.

It is hoped that the new fines would result in cleaner streets and also help fund services, since the cost of keeping streets clean last year was estimated at £5 million.

Currently, if a motorist is accused of littering they cannot be prosecuted if they deny the offence. The case must be taken to court to prove the identity of the litterer, which is costly and not always effective.

The new law will automatically send a fine to the owner of the vehicle that the litter was dropped from, in the same way as flytipping is now dealt with.

Gary Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association councils' body, said: "The nation's roads are blighted with fastfood wrappers, cigarette butts and empty bottles, but councils are hamstrung when it comes taking action. When you get a speeding ticket or fly-tipping fine, the keeper of the vehicle can be prosecuted if they don't hand over details of the offender, why not for littering too?"

But critics are concerned that councils will use the fines as a way of making more money out of motorists.

Fiona McEvoy of the Taxpayers' Alliance said: "Though LGA are right to stress the importance of avoiding costly legal action on trivial cases like this, it's vital that local authorities won't use fixed penalties as a revenue raiser.

"Most motorists are tidy, lawabiding citizens and shouldn't be targeted by overzealous enforcement officers on a mission to top up council coffers."

Does this new law sound like a good idea to you? And if it comes into action, will the police really have time to spend catching litter bugs? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.