Private plow operators who push walls of snow into roadways already incur the wrath of drivers and municipalities. Under a bill before the state Assembly, they would face something more.

Legislation introduced by Sen. Donald Norcross (D., Camden) would fine contractors up to $500 for dumping snow into public thoroughfares.

In Camden County, the unauthorized dumping, most of it from shopping malls and other large commercial centers, is a longstanding problem, Freeholder Ian Leonard said. Walls of snow are pushed from parking lots onto adjacent roads, causing drivers to navigate obstructed or severely narrowed lanes.

"I've seen it four times in the last hour," Leonard said around noon on Monday, as he traveled with county snow-clearing crews.

"You see big mounds of it, three or four feet high. When it freezes up, it's like driving into a wall," Leonard said.

The practice exists statewide, creating a safety hazard that drives up the cost of snow removal for taxpayers and makes "an extremely difficult season even tougher on equipment and personnel," Norcross said in a press release.

Private contractors currently are prohibited from obstructing private driveways with plowed snow, but there is no law that prohibits dumping the stuff on public roads or parks, Norcross' office said.

Under the legislation, a contractor would be fined $250 for a first offense and $500 for all subsequent offenses. The bill passed in the Senate unanimously this month and awaits a vote in the Assembly when the legislature returns in January.

Leonard, who is pushing for the measure, believes its passage would have an immediate impact.

"A couple of $500 fines will put a dent in what [contractors] are making," he said.