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Enforcement of smoking ban in cars

01 October, 2015

Enforcement of smoking ban in cars: What the new law means for you
From 1st October it is now illegal to smoke in a vehicle containing anyone under the age of 18. Both drivers and passengers could be faced with a £50 fine if they are caught doing so.

We at First4lawyers welcome the new legislation, however some may argue that the new law is unnecessary and unenforceable.

To help you get to grips with it all, we’ve compiled a list of points which tackles everything you need to know about the introduction of the ban.

What does the car smoking ban mean in the real world?
Smoking around children is a very emotive subject and many may argue that if the knowledge that you are poisoning your own child by smoking around them isn’t enough of a deterrent, then will people adhere to a ban?

Practically, this ban seems unenforceable, with many police forces already stating they may not enforce it, while others have stated that they will be offering warnings rather than fines.

So what do you need to know about the ban? 

From 1st October 2015, it is illegal to smoke in a vehicle with anyone under 18 in it.

Research shows that cigarette smoke can stay in the air for up to two and a half hours, so technically you can sit in your car and smoke alone, then put a child in the car and they will suffer the same consequences, regardless of your intentions.

Ironically a 17 year-old driving on their own can smoke, but if one of their 17 year-old friends is in the car, then they can’t.

We wouldn’t recommend it though, as new drivers are statistically more likely to have an accident, and therefore they should refrain from distracting themselves.

What if I open my sunroof?
Even smoking with a sunroof or window open is still considered illegal under the new law. The only time you can smoke in a vehicle is if it is a convertible and the roof is fully down.

Additionally, you cannot smoke in a stationary car with the doors open.

When can I smoke in a vehicle?
If you own a motorhome, campervan, or caravan, then you can smoke in it when it is used as living accommodation, but not when it is being used as a vehicle - either moving or stationary.

The ban doesn’t apply to e-cigarettes, so it is fine to continue to vape in the presence of children, despite the conflicting research about whether they are harmful of not.

What are the consequences of getting caught smoking? 
If you are the driver and someone else is smoking, then you face a £50 fine for letting them smoke, while the smoker will also be fined £50.

If you are a smoking driver, then you could be hit with a double whammy, as you could be fined twice. Should you fail to pay the fixed penalty on time, you will see the cost rise and could even face a trip to court.

Pleading naivety
Although police and local authorities are likely to offer an initial softer approach to enforcement of this new law, simply pleading ignorance will not work.

Advice on motoring offences 
First4lawyers have a team of dedicated motoring law specialists that can offer advice about any motoring related offences. To find out more, check our motoring offences section or contact us to discuss your legal issue with one of our expert solicitors.