NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (KTNV/CNN) – A Nevada smoker said his bad habit cost him more than he expected: about $1,200.
On a busy North Las Vegas stretch, Eric – who asked to be referred to only by his first name – lit up a cigarette last week. What he did next would cost him dearly.
"I'm sorry, I've been littering for so long, but after 30 years it just becomes automatic," he said.
Eric said he tossed his cigarette butt onto the side of the road, but North Las Vegas Police officers were right there to witness the infraction.
"They were, like, pointing at me and saying, “You, what are you doing littering in my city?’" Eric said.
Court records show the misdemeanor crime cost Eric $1,174.
Eric claims the officers were less than friendly about the littering. He said they patted him down for weapons before handing him the ticket.
He ended up paying the ticket without fighting it.
"I worry about the next person,” he said. “Maybe they've been doing it for 30 years, and then they can't feed their family or pay the rent or something.”
North Las Vegas Police said, “The citation was for littering in a public place (City Ordinance 8.24.070). This city ordinance is what helps the community stay clean and to improve the quality of life for our residents.”
Eric said he posted about the crime and the fine online.
"I think it's blatantly out of proportion to the crime," he said of the fine.
Many people said they were glad he got caught. Others said the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.
Eric, who had to put the fine on a credit card, now uses a smoke-proof pouch to dispose of his cigarette butts. He’s now warning others to not even think about littering.