Smoking and driving
Smoke free Laws require company vehicles to be smoke free at all times if they are used:
- to transport members of the public
- or in the course of paid or voluntary work by more than one person – regardless of whether they are in the vehicle at the same time
It is an offence to smoke in any vehicle used for work.
Smoke-free vehicles must display a no-smoking sign in each compartment of the vehicle in which people can be carried. This must show the international no-smoking symbol no smaller than 70mm in diameter.
Penalties for smoking in a smoke free vehicle.
Smokers who do break the law by smoking in work vehicles or on public transport are committing a criminal offence. Anyone who is caught smoking in a smoke free vehicle can face a £50 fixed penalty notice. The £50 fine may be reduced to £30 if it is paid within 15 days. If the offender is prosecuted and convicted in court this fine can be as much as £200. Failure to display no-smoking signs can mean a £200 fixed penalty notice or up to £1000 if convicted in court. Anyone who fails to control or stop someone smoking in a smoke free vehicle can face a £2500 fine if convicted in court.
Smoking in private vehicles is not an offence. But if smoking is the reason for careless driving then this could be viewed by the authorities as an offence. The Highway Code has been updated to reflect this in section 148.
Highway Code Section 148 states:
Safe driving and riding needs concentration
Avoid distractions when driving or riding such as:
- loud music (this may mask other sounds)
- trying to read maps
- inserting a cassette or CD or tuning a radio
- eating and drinking
The Highway Code does not make it a specific offence to smoke while driving, any more than it is currently an offence to change a cassette, read a map, eat or drink. However, if any of these distractions are coupled with bad driving, or lead to an accident, a charge of careless driving, or not being in a position to control the vehicle becomes a possibility. They can also be used to show dangerous driving, an offence which could lead to imprisonment, particularly if the dangerous driving causes a death.
Smoking and littering whilst driving.
Littering is classed as an offence, specifically, throwing a cigarette out of a car window, whether it is moving or not. This can end up with the motorist being fined. There have been instances when motorists observed throwing cigarettes out of car windows or emptying the contents of ashtrays onto a road have resulted in fixed penalty notices. Drivers have been fined between £50 and £100 for this offence. A maximum fine of £2,500 could be applied to the offender if prosecuted and convicted in a court.
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