YORKTOWN, N.Y. - The town’s newly enacted litter law, which allows the town to administer fines based on photographs and video recordings, has captured its first litterbug red-handed, according to Town Attorney Michael J. McDermott.
Under the “Recorded Images Violations” local law, which the town board passed in July, any motorist caught on camera littering from his or her vehicle is subject to a $500 fine. In almost all cases, the owner of the vehicle will be subject to the fine, regardless of who was driving the vehicle or who littered.
While the town has yet to install its own cameras, a resident with his own surveillance camera captured images of a driver tossing a bag of trash onto Wood Street, McDermott said. The surveillance images show the driver of a 2008 Volkswagen Jetta discarding the bag around 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, before continuing along Wood Street.
The resident who owns the camera sent the images to Supervisor Michael Grace, who turned the matter over to Jason Zeif, the town’s code enforcement officer, and Lt. John DeIulio of the Yorktown Police Department.
The car’s license plate was visible in the surveillance images and the town was able to track down the owner of the car, a woman from Mahopac. Police learned that the woman’s grandson regularly drives the Jetta, and was doing so during the littering incident, McDermott said.
Because she owns the car, the Mahopac woman was issued a summons and has until tomorrow (Thursday, Dec. 1) to either pay the penalty or dispute the charge in Yorktown Justice Court.
Grace said the town is in the process of acquiring and installing its own cameras; however, he noted that anybody can send the town images or video of littering. Grace said the town may look into purchasing its cameras sooner than expected, and said it may purchase the same cameras used by the resident.
“When we actually passed the law, one of the things we wanted to encourage was citizen enforcement as well,” Grace said. “It’s great. It all worked out, even better than we hoped.”
McDermott said the images should either be sent to the supervisor’s office or the police department. Calling it “bold, aggressive and innovative,” McDermott added that Yorktown’s litter law is one of the first of its kind in the nation.
“One of the goals of this legislation is also to act as a deterrent,” McDermott said. “Once one prosecution of a litterer takes place, the hope is that less occurrences will take place.”
In August, the town also installed new anti-littering signs at 40 areas throughout town. The signs warn residents they are “under surveillance.”