Smoking in Vehicles Law Change

Just over a year ago, we published an article regarding the government consultation on smoking in private vehicles carrying children. Fast forward to the present and the changes are set to come into force from today. For those unaware of this new regime, we have put together a brief summary of the changes below.

The law changes have now come into force to supplement the existing provisions relating to smoking in a work vehicle, further reducing the opportunities to smoke in any vehicle generally. The changes have come about as a result of government research which shows that significant numbers of children are reported to be being exposed to second hand smoke in cars (26% in their family’s car) and research has shown that high levels of secondhand smoke can accumulate in enclosed vehicles. The new legislation has therefore been introduced in order to combat this.

Smoking in car law

The changes mean that smoking in a vehicle with someone under 18 is now illegal. There are now two specific offences created by the new legislation. From today it is an offence:

  • For a person of any age to smoke in a private vehicle that is carrying someone who is under 18, and
  • For a driver (including a provisional driver) not to stop someone smoking in these circumstances.

Both the driver and the smoker can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice of £50. If the driver is caught smoking they can be fined twice. The Police have been given discretion as to whether or not to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice or whether to issue just a warning instead.

The law applies to all drivers in England and Wales, including those under 18 with full or provisional licences. If the driver is the person under 18, then they will be fined alongside the smoker. Drivers under 18 who are alone in the car can smoke without punishment.

The law applies to all private vehicles wholly or partially enclosed by a roof. A convertible with the roof fully down and stowed away is not an enclosed vehicle and therefore will not be subject to the law. The law still applies if you open the windows or sun roof, turn on the air conditioning or sit with the door open.

The law applies to motorhomes, campervans and caravans whilst they are being used as vehicles, but it does not apply whilst they are being used as living accommodation. As a result you are allowed in effect to smoke on holiday but not on the way to your holiday.

For help or advice, please contact road transport lawyer Tim Ridyard on 01223 411421