Aussie driver cops $1,120 fine after being spotted in 'careless' split second act

More dash cams on our roads and harsher penalties mean drivers risk steep fines for tossing cigarette butts.

Cars in traffic in Sydney (left) and a motorist holds a cigarette out the window (right).
Drivers are being urged to report anyone seen tossing cigarettes out their window. Source: Getty

If for some reason you needed another reason not to smoke, this might just be it. Long gone are the days that a smoker could just casually flick a spent cigarette butt out the window and keep happily driving on.

And one Aussie motorist has learned that lesson the hard way – to the tune of $1,120. The hefty fine was handed down to the driver from Craigieburn, in Victoria, after someone spotted him toss a burning cigarette butt from his Honda sedan.

The careless act was seen by another driver on Sydney Rd, Campbellfield, who then reported it to authorities.

The case ultimately landed in the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court, where the driver was hit with a $730 fine and ordered to pay $380 in costs.

The Victorian Environmental Protection Agency is urging all drivers in the state to be vigilant and report any littering and tossed cigarettes to its 24-hour pollution hotline. The agency says cigarette butts are the most common form of litter found in the environment and they often find their way through drains and waterways to the bay.

With the increased prevalence of dash cams on our roads, it's increasingly likely offending drivers will be caught in the act and reported to authorities. In one viral incident, a Perth man was praised as a "hero" after he was captured on dash cam getting out of his car in standstill traffic and throwing a dropped cigarette back through a car's window after it was dropped outside by a woman.

A motorist smoking a cigarette behind the wheel of a car.
Harsher penalties introduced five years ago mean driver can be hit with a fine of $11,000. Source: Getty

Authorities have long warned about the potential for cigarette butts discarded out car windows to start grass fires, with a recent study finding about 4 per cent of tossed cigarette butts caused grass to ignite in dry conditions on a day of 27C and a slight wind.

In NSW, drivers who commit the offence can be hit with a $660 fine and five demerit points. But if they do so during a total fire ban, the penalty jumps significantly to a potential fine of $11,000 and 10 demerit points.

The harsher penalties were introduced in 2019 and strongly endorsed by the NSW Rural Fire Service Association. "A careless act by one person may have dire consequences for others, including the firefighters who risk their lives at fires," RFS volunteer and station officer Paul Scott said at the time.

In NSW, you can report a cigarette butt tosser here. In Queensland, you can do so here.

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