Littering Laws & Information...


When was the last time you saw someone littering?

Litter just doesn't appear -- it's the result of careless attitudes and waste handling. Is there anything to do about it? Knowing more about litter and where it comes from is a good place to start.

Why Do People Litter?

People litter because:

Seven Sources of Litter

Often motorists and pedestrians are blamed for litter. According to Keep America Beautiful, however, they are just two of seven primary sources:

Litter is misplaced solid waste - blown by wind and traffic and carried by water. It travels until trapped by a curb, building or fence. Once litter has accumulated, it invites people to add more.


Litter is a costly problem that we all end up paying for to clean up Ohio's highways, parks and waterways.

Litter Gets You Right Where You Live

The act of littering can harm the environment in many ways. Litter can cause injury to area wildlife, pose threats to human health and is aesthetically displeasing.

When discarded as litter, human-made materials such as plastic, glass aluminum can cause external injury to animals or, if accidentally ingested, cause starvation or suffocation. These objects may also become the home for disease-spreading insects such as flies and mosquitoes.

What You Can Do To Help

Set an example for others, especially children, by not littering.

The State of Ohio also offers excellent opportunities for volunteers to participate in clean-up programs. The Adopt-A-Highway program, sponsored by the Ohio Department of Transportation, as well as the Adopt-A-Waterway program sponsored by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Litter isn't just unsightly, unhealthy and wasteful, it's illegal! Numerous laws exist in Ohio to prohibit littering and illegal dumping. Under Ohio law, litter is any trash thrown, discarded or dropped by a person onto public property, private property not owned by the individual, or into Ohio's waterways. The Ohio Revised Code prohibits littering, regardless of whether or not it was intentional. Litter is a serious offense, punishable by fines of up to $500 and 60 days in jail.

By creating partnerships between state and local government, businesses, private citizens and organizations, we can make Ohio a clean place for everyone to enjoy.


Ohio Litter & Illegal Dumping Laws


Littering is a crime in Ohio, expressly forbidden in at least 11 of the state's misdemeanor and felony statutes. If you want to report a littering problem, we urge you to contact your local recycling and litter prevention office. They can help coordinate enforcement efforts with local law enforcement agencies. Your information can also help them plan other enforcement efforts, prepare clean-up priority lists and helps them better understand the litter problem in the area they serve.
Local litter prevention program directory

Day-to-day ways to help

From a scattering of cigarette butts on the sidewalk to a pile of old appliances in a weed-choked lot, litter is a blemish on the landscape. It drags down a community’s image and is dismally contagious – nothing invites people to litter like a place that is already littered.

Most of us have contributed to the problem at one time or another, but fortunately, it is just as easy to be part of the solution:

Ohio's litter statutes


Littering & illegal dumping
— Ohio Revised Code 3767.32
Leaving any trash or discarded items on any public or private land or waterway is a third-degree misdemeanor in Ohio. The law also prohibits putting trash in someone else’s trash receptacle without permission from the owner or a civil authority, unless the receptacle is intended for public use or the trash was generated on the property where the receptacle is located.

Polluting state lands or waters
— Ohio Revised Code 1531.29
The penalty for littering can be more severe when litter ends up on state owned, controlled, or administered land, or in any ditch, stream, river, lake, pond, or other watercourse which is part of a larger surface or groundwater system. Like the litter law, pollution violations are a third-degree misdemeanor, but subsequent offenses within a year are first-degree misdemeanors. The same penalties apply if the litter ends up on the banks of a body of water close enough to be pulled in during flooding.

Open dumping or burning
— Ohio Revised Code 3734.03
Illegal dumping or burning of trash can also be prosecuted as an unclassified felony. Those convicted face fines between $10,000 and $25,000, two to four years incarceration, or both a fine and imprisonment.

Littering from a motor vehicle
— Ohio Revised Code 4511.82
Littering from a motor vehicle is a minor misdemeanor – and can result in fines up to $100. The driver of a motor vehicle can be cited if a passenger litters. The driver can also be cited if litter simply falls or blows from the vehicle.

Unsecured load
— Ohio Revised Code 4513.31
If you haul anything in a motor vehicle, you must make sure it stays securely attached to the vehicle during transit. Failure to do so is a minor misdemeanor for a first offense, a fourth-degree misdemeanor upon the second offense within a year, and a third-degree misdemeanor for each additional offense.

Abandoned motor vehicles
— Ohio Revised Code 4513.64
Leaving a junked motor vehicle on private property without the consent of the owner for more than 72 hours is a minor misdemeanor.

Abandoned appliances
— Ohio Revised Code 3767.29
A minor misdemeanor, the law refers to any airtight or semi-airtight container left in a place accessible to children. Penalty can be avoided by removing latches, hinges or other hardware that could trap someone inside.

Littering from a boat
— Ohio Revised Code 1547.49
Written specifically to address situations in which the officer feels the law against polluting state lands or waters is too harsh, such as when people litter from a boat or fail to retrieve litter that blows from their craft. Violations are a minor misdemeanor.

Throwing refuse, oil, or filth into lakes, streams, or drains
— Ohio Revised Code 3767.14
Littering public waterways is a first-degree misdemeanor for even the first offense when coal refuse, petroleum and petroleum products or waste from cheese making is dumped into the water.

Depositing dead animals & offal on land or water
— Ohio Revised Code 3767.16
Dumping the contents of an outdoor toilet, dead animals, or the remains of dead animals after slaughter any place other than an approved facility is a minor misdemeanor in Ohio.

Against defiling springs or wells
— Ohio Revised Code 3767.18
It is a minor misdemeanor to leave a dead animal or other putrid filth near a well or body of water with malicious intent.

Advocate Enforcement

Never hesitate to alert law enforcement when you are concerned about a litter problem, particularly when it presents an immediate safety risk, such as debris on a roadway.

But temper your expectations. Most litter crimes are misdemeanors. In most cases, a law enforcement officer must witness the crime to make an arrest or issue a citation. Also, litter law enforcement often takes a back seat to offenses that pose a more immediate threat to public health and safety.

This is where another call – to your local litter prevention office – can help. Your information helps them work with law enforcement to plan illegal dump site surveillance and other targeted enforcement efforts. It also helps them plan and schedule community clean-ups.

Enforcing Authorities

Any sworn law enforcement officer is empowered to make arrests or issue citations for Ohio’s litter laws. In addition to state laws, many local governments in Ohio have their own penalties for littering and illegal dumping.