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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

169.421 Civil liability for littering.

Subdivision 1. Finding. The legislature finds that the cost of removal and disposal of solid waste, including litter, from vehicles is an onerous burden upon the public, and that the criminal law is not always adequate in dealing with the problem. This requires the imposition of civil liability as provided in this section.

Subd. 2. Definition. For purposes of this section, "owner" as to a vehicle means the owner of the vehicle, but in the case of a leased vehicle means the lessee.

Subd. 3. Civil liability imposed. If any solid waste, including litter, glass, nails, tacks, wire, cans, bottles, garbage, papers, refuse, trash, cigarette filters, debris from fireworks, or any form of offensive matter is thrown, deposited, placed, or dumped from a vehicle upon any street or highway, public land, or upon private land without the consent of the owner of the land, a violation of this subdivision occurs and civil liability is imposed upon the owner of the vehicle. The driver and passengers riding in a vehicle are constituted as the agents of the owner of the vehicle for purposes of this subdivision. It is a defense to any action brought pursuant to this section that the vehicle was stolen. This section is not applicable to the owner of a vehicle transporting persons for hire or transporting school children.

Subd. 4. Civil penalty; damages. A person who violates this section is subject to the civil penalties for littering and an action for damages as specified in section 115A.99.

Subd. 5. Procedures. A civil action may be commenced as is any civil action or by the issuance of a citation to the owner of the vehicle by any law enforcement officer who has reason to believe that a violation has occurred. Actions commenced by the issuance of a citation by a law enforcement officer shall be tried by the prosecuting authority responsible for misdemeanor prosecutions in the jurisdiction where a violation occurs. Any damages recovered in an action brought by a public agency shall be deposited in the treasury of the jurisdiction trying the action and distributed as provided in section 487.33. Any district court may establish a separate civil calendar for cases brought under this section.

Subd. 6. Relationship to criminal law; election of remedy. If an act is a violation of this section and of a statute or ordinance providing a criminal penalty, a public agency elects its remedy by commencing either an action under this section or a criminal prosecution, and the commencement of one type of action by a public agency is a bar to its bringing of the other.

Subd. 7. Payment. Any district court may establish a schedule of costs and civil damages, and procedures for payment, in cases brought by a public agency under which the defendant may consent to default judgment and make payment according to the schedule without making a personal appearance in court.

Subd. 8. Citation. This section may be cited as the Civil Litter Act.

HIST: 1979 c 235 s 1; 1991 c 138 s 2; 1994 c 412 s 3; 1998 c 254 art 2 s 14,15; 2003 c 28 art 1 s 18