A HUDDERSFIELD motorist is warning drivers to beware of littering laws after she was fined for dropping chewing gum from her car window.
Janet Mather, 50, of Moorlands Road, Mount, was given a £75 fixed-penalty notice by Kirklees Council on April 1 after being seen dropping a piece of chewing gum from her car on Leeds Road on February 29.
At firs, she thought the notice was an April Fool’s Day joke because she did not remember the incident.
But after contacting the council she discovered it was real and paid the fine, as she could not say for definite that she had not dropped the gum.
Mrs Mather, an early years development worker, said: “I usually give up chocolate for Lent and I am not someone who chews gum normally, but I was longing for something to chew. I truly don’t remember the incident at all. There was no photographic evidence.
“I paid the fine because I didn’t want to go to court and if I did this then I deserve the fine. I’m law-abiding and honest. I’ve never had anything like this in 20 years of driving.
“It is quite a lot of money for a piece of chewing gum. I want to warn other people to think about what they are doing because you don’t know who’s watching.”
Fixed-penalty notices can be sent to drivers for dropping litter from their cars if they are seen by a witness who is prepared to give a signed statement to the council.
Rob Dalby, enforcement officer with Kirklees Environmental Services, said: “The fixed penalty is an opportunity to discharge the offence without going to court. If you choose not to take advantage of that the original offence comes into force and will be prosecuted under Section 87 of the 1990 Environmental Protection Act.”
Proof – other than a witness statement – is not needed for a fixed-penalty notice. But if the case proceeds to magistrates’ court the bench will decide on the evidence whether someone is guilty or innocent.
If someone is found guilty the maximum penalty a court can give out is a £2,500 fine.
Mr Dalby said: “It is up to the magistrates to decided on guilt or innocence and the level of penalty.”