Got a question? We have an answer.
We’re like that. We’re from Texas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Litter is trash that is not disposed of properly in a trash can. When it’s in the can, it becomes garbage. Anywhere else, it’s litter. Just to be clear, the following is definitely and undeniably LITTER:
- Cigarette butts – they’re small but they’re a nuisance
- Gum and gum wrappers – anything less than two square inches is considered microliter, a growing problem on Texas roadways
- Apple cores – even though they’ll decompose
- Trash that flies out of a car window or truck bed — accidentally or otherwise
Littering is against the law and you can be fined up to $500 for trash less than or equal to five pounds or five gallons (as you may have seen on those blue Don’t mess with Texas signs). Repeat the offense, and you could face a fine of up to $2,000 and 180 days in jail.
It gets worse.
Discarding trash that weighs more than five pounds is considered illegal dumping and carries even steeper fines. In Texas, failing to cover your pickup-truck load is against the law and carries a fine of up to $200 for the first offense and $500 for repeat offenders.
Any law enforcement officer in Texas can enforce these laws.
We’d love to help with your coverage of litter issues in Texas. We can provide your news organization with quotes, photographs, updated statistics, and in-depth perspective on the subject. Contact us.
Don’t mess with Texas spokespeople are as unique as the state itself, and they are chosen to appeal to the state’s most likely litterers.
Consequently, celebrated Texans admired by this group were recruited for the cause. In 1986, blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan was chosen as the campaign’s first television spokesperson. You can watch all our TV spots in the Campaign section.
After the Stevie Ray Vaughn PSA aired on television, the campaign’s popularity increased dramatically, and the trail has been star-studded ever since.
If you’ve missed our campaign on the tube, we have a comprehensive TV Vault you can check out. If you’re going to be road-tripping on Texas highways, be on the lookout for our billboards. PSA directors, contact us if you’d like a video or audio tape.
We try to spread the Don’t mess with Texas message to every Texan in the state, but Texas is huge and there are only so many dollars. Between TV, outdoor boards, and radio, we advertise in almost every metropolitan area in the state. We also send our TV ads to stations across the state to use as PSAs. If you’d like your local station to air our ads, call them and let them know!
We love it, too. Since the phrase Don’t mess with Texas is registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, anyone interested in using the phrase must first request permission from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
The Don’t mess with Texas name may not be used without the expressed consent of TxDOT. For more guidelines or questions, please contact us.
We appreciate the opportunity to spread the word and we want to make sure Don’t mess with Texas is used in the right way. So please contact us with your URL and let us know how you plan to use it. Keep in mind that if you wish to use the phrase on your site you must also request permission from TxDOT (see the previous question).
Report a Litterer
For the most part, you shouldn’t try to approach a blatant litterer on your own. If you see someone litter on Texas highways, you can turn them in through the Texas Department of Transportation’s Report a Litterer program. The litterer will receive a litterbag and note reminding them not to mess with Texas. Learn how to report a litterer.
If you notice litter in your community or on city streets, please contact your city government.
Your submission is strictly confidential. The litterer will not be able to find out who submitted his or her name.
After the report is processed, the litterer will receive a letter in the mail reminding them about the incident and a Don’t mess with Texas litterbag. Information about state litter laws will also be included.
Depending on monthly volume, the report could take 2-4 weeks to process.
No, the litterer will not receive a ticket. Texas law enforcement officials are the only people authorized to enforce the litter abatement act.