On 1st October 2015, a new “smoke-free” driving law came into effect which made it an offence to smoke or fail to prevent smoking tobacco in an enclosed vehicle that has someone under the age of 18 present.
From the outset, it was anticipated that the police would take a more educational rather than punitive line, however four months on, there seems to remain a large number of motorists who either aren’t aware of the new legislation, or who continue to disregard it.
With the potential impact on children’s health, along with the financial impact on your pocket in mind, here’s a reminder of the main points surrounding the offence:
Do’s and don’ts of smoking if there is someone under the age of 18 in your vehicle:
You can still “vape” and drive because e-cigarettes are not covered by the offence.
You can smoke inside a convertible provided the roof is down
You can smoke inside a campervan, motor home or caravan provided it is being used for accommodation.
A 17 year old driver can smoke inside their car provided they are the sole occupant
You can’t smoke any tobacco whatsoever inside a vehicle if someone under 18 is present.
You can’t allow someone else to smoke tobacco inside the vehicle if someone under 18 is present.
You can’t smoke in a car with the sunroof open and all the doors open if someone under 18 is present.
You can’t smoke in the open doorway of a vehicle if someone under 18 is present.
You can’t smoke in a campervan, motor home or caravan whilst it is being driven if someone under 18 is present.
You won’t get penalty points on your licence if you commit this offence although you could face a £50 fine.
The police have discretion to warn you rather than impose the £50 fine immediately.
The case could go to Court if a police officer deems it necessary, or if you want to plead your innocence.
Article written by specialist motoring lawyer; Alison Ashworth, Managing Director of Ashworth Motoring Law Ltd.
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