Barbara Horst, 57, of Riverside was pulled over in June for transporting four scrap tires over the legal limit of 10 without a permit. NATHAN DAVIS / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

‘Everybody is thinking I’m kidding at first’: Tire case highlights an obscure state law with big punishment

A Riverside woman faces a mandatory $10,000 fine and up to four years in prison for allegedly violating an obscure state law limiting the number of scrap tires a person can transport.

Barbara Horst, 57, was pulled over June 15 by a Montgomery County deputy with 14 tires she says she planned to dispose of properly.

The deputy told her the limit was 10.

“I have not met anybody that has ever heard of this law. So everybody is thinking I’m kidding at first,” Horst said. “Like I told the sheriff, if I knew that it was a felony, do you think I would be riding around with them in the back of my truck?”

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Horst, who was in court Thursday, said the saga began when she loaned her pickup to a friend. But when she needed the pickup back the next day, she went to the man’s house and discovered it filled with tires.

“The cops said, ‘Why didn’t you push all the tires out?’ and I said because I’m a woman. I was mad because he didn’t have it back to me on time,” Horst said. “I just jumped in it and took off.”

Horst’s public defender, Tom Kollin, called the law “crazy.” He said clients busted for possessing of cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl have been eligible for treatment in lieu of conviction, but such a remedy eludes Horst due to the way the statute is written.

“I have a grandma who was carrying four scrap tires too many when she thought she was doing the right thing,” Kollin said. “It’s amazing to me.”

A deputy first pulled Horst over on Needmore Road in Harrison Twp. after noticing a number of tires in the back of her black Ford F-150 pickup, according to a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office report. Horst told one deputy at about 12:45 p.m. she was taking the tires to an incinerator behind a local store. A deputy told Horst there was no incinerator near the store. Later, Horst told another deputy she planned to take the tires to a disposal facility after a few days when she received money, according to the report.

“I was just going to leave them in the back of the truck until I got the check to do the right thing and take them to the incinerator,” said Horst, who was until recently a nurse’s aid at an area hospital until she left the job to care for her mother.

A grand jury indicted Horst on Aug. 28.

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Kollin said he is working to get Horst, who is indigent and now lost her truck to the impound lot, into some type of diversion program.

It’s illegal to transport more than 10 scrap tires at time anywhere in the state of Ohio without first being registered with or obtaining a registration certificate from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, according to the state statute. New transporters must submit a registration application and $300 to Ohio EPA at least 90 days before transporting any tires. The registration must be renewed, and the fee repaid, each year, according to the state.

A 1987 study (Burgess & Niple) found 47 percent of scrap tires generated in Ohio were open dumped, illustrating the need for scrap tire regulations. Following a growing concern over illegal dumping and large tire stockpiles, Ohio lawmakers passed a scrap tire law that went into effect in 1993.

The purpose of the scrap tire regulations is to track scrap tires from the time they are generated until they are properly disposed, reused or recycled, according to the Ohio EPA.

The law is meant to prevent a huge environmental problem from piling up.

About 12 million scrap tires are generated each year in Ohio, of which approximately 100,000 are illegally dumped and have to be cleaned up by Ohio EPA contractors, according to the Ohio EPA. On Sunday, Montgomery County residents rid their properties of about 15,000 tires at a buyback event, according to the county.

Horst said she had no intention to dispose of the tires illegally.

“If I was going to illegally dump them, I wouldn’t be riding around with them … It didn’t even cross my mind,” Horst said. “I didn’t even put them back there. I was just trying to do the right thing and take them to the incinerator.”

Horst’s case will be considered for diversion on Nov. 1 when she is in court next.

“I hope they drop this. This is crazy,” she said. “I’m just really in a bind.”

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