Ind., Ill. police crack down on cigarette-tossing drivers

July 18, 2012 (INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.)

With this summer's drought, doing so can easily start a fire and, as some drivers may find, result in hefty fines.

The Lake County, Ill. Sheriff Highway Patrol is taking a page from the Indiana State Police's playbook. The department is cracking down on cigarette-tossing motorists, a move Indiana began on Monday.

"We recognize it as a very serious issue, especially given the drought-like conditions that we're experiencing in the Midwest," said Sgt. Michael Keller of the Lake County Sheriff Highway Patrol.

In Illinois, the fine for improper cigarette disposal can be up to $1,500 dollars. In Indiana, it is even steeper, up to $10,000. While these fines aren't new, severe drought conditions in both states have renewed efforts to remind motorists who smoke of the consequences their actions can have.

"In urban areas, homes align that interstate, and then in the rural areas you have farmers with their crops and their animals there so... it could impact somebody's home and livelihood," said Sgt. Ann Wojas of the Indiana State Police.

"I am a smoker; I do find myself doing it too, but the weather permits for us not to do things like that," said Regina Luckey.

In March, a lit cigarette was blamed for a brush fire that destroyed ten acres of grass and marshland at Cook County's Deer Grove Forest Preserve.

"I'm going to definitely keep my eyes out, make sure I'm not doing anything stupid with a cigarette, but it's hard to always keep it in mind," said Jeff Lowy.

A spokesperson for the Illinois State Police says they have been on heightened alert since the July 4th holiday. They're monitoring for the disposal of any combustibles that might pose a danger to state roads and expressways.

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