With littering being a topic in the news this week, I’d like to talk a little bit about our laws covering such. Illegal Dumping is addressed in the Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 365.012 and states an offense is committed if a person disposes or allows or permits the disposal of litter or other solid waste at a place that is not an approved solid waste site, including a place on or within 300 feet of a public highway, on a right-ofway, on other public or private property, or into inland or coastal water of the state. My office investigates several illegal dumping complaints a week. We have filed several criminal cases in the past few years on individuals responsible for illegal dumping on county roads. We have several means of identifying the offender on illegal dumping cases including DNA, fingerprints, surveillance cameras and information found within the trash. Punishment for illegal dumping varies based on the amount of trash. Trash less than five pounds or volume less than five gallons is a Class C Misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $500. If the trash weighs between five and 500 pounds, it becomes a Class B Misdemeanor and the case is filed in County Court. Punishment for this can carry jail time in addition to a fine. Trash weighing between 500 and 1,000 pounds is a Class A Misdemeanor which can carry a fine up to $4,000 and one year in jail. Trash dumping can even become a felony if the weight of the refuse is more than 1,000 pounds or has a volume of 200 cubic feet or more. These cases above a Class C Misdemeanor often involve the individual being arrested and having to post bond. Recently we filed felony illegal dumping charges on two individuals who dumped roofing material and other debris that weighed over 1,000 pounds. They have been indicted by the grand jury. As in all cases, we are always asking for the public’s help in watching for illegal dumping and littering. If you see someone throwing trash out of their car and can obtain a license number, please call us immediately. You may also report any illegal dumping you might see and we will investigate the scene. Call my dispatchers at 830-769-3434. “Don’t be a Litter Bug”, It’s the Law. Until next time, stay safe and if we can be of any assistance to you, please call my office at 830-769-3434..
DAVID SOWARD is the elected Sheriff of Atascosa County. He has been with the sheriff’s office for 42 years and he is in his 7th year as Sheriff. Sheriff Soward holds a Master Jailer’s License as well as a Master Peace Officer’s License from the State of Texas.