Illinois Cigarette Law – Draconian Penalties and Searching Your Vehicle
By Dan Noll on January 2nd, 2014 in Criminal Defense, Criminal Defense Lawyer
As of yesterday, an update to the Illinois Littering law has taken effect. This article will discuss the penalties and how it may be used to search you and your vehicle. As always, if you are charged with a crime in Central Illinois, contact our Criminal Defense Lawyers today at (217) 414-8889 for a Free Initial Consultation.
This law has been reported by a number of news agencies across the State of Illinois. However, for some background, you can read an article published by KWQC. The law itself has criminalized discarding a cigarette butt. Not only is it a criminal defense but it is a misdemeanor offense punishable by jail time!
Draconian Penalties of Cigarette Law
If you are caught flicking your cigarette on the ground, you will face the following penalties in Illinois:
- First Offense: Up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine (Class B Misdemeanor);
- Second Offense: Up to 364 days in jail and a $1,500 fine (Class A Misdemeanor); and
- Third Offense or Higher: 1-3 years in the Department of Corrections (Class 4 Felony).
You read that right, you could be a felonious litterer. We can only imagine the conversations people will have as the arrive in prison. What are you in for? Littering.
Cigarettes and Probable Cause
Now that throwing a cigarette out of your car is a criminal offense, that means that it can be used as probable cause for a DUI offense and other criminal offenses. Moreover, since this new law has been enacted and is a misdemeanor offense, the police can now search your vehicle if they see you illegally discard a cigarette.
How is that possible? The law allows for a search incident to arrest. This provides the police the authority to search you and your vehicle. Moreover, they can do an “inventory search” as well. An inventory search permits the authorities to go through everything in your vehicle under the theory that they need an inventory of everything in your car before it is towed.
Where do we go from here?
Looking forward, it is difficult to predict how this law will be enforced. Will prosecutors really incarcerate people for littering? How will this affect the already overcrowded Illinois prison population? While Sangamon County officials have not publicly stated how they will enforce the law, other jurisdictions have.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyers will continue to monitor the implementation of this new law. If you arrested for any criminal offense in Springfield or anywhere in Central Illinois, contact our office today at (217) 414-8889 and don’t forget to Like Us on Facebook.