The Government has released the new penalties for allowing smoking in private vehicles that are carrying someone under the age of 18.
The changes that will be implemented from the 1st October 2015 will provide Police with the discretion to either issue a warning or a fixed penalty notice of £50. This is a significant change to the original proposals of the Government which we covered in an earlier blog Fine or Points.
From the 1st October 2015 private vehicles that are carrying persons under the age of 18 must be smoke free. The rules will apply if they are enclosed, there is more than one person present and one of those persons is under the age of 18.
Any private vehicle that is enclosed wholly or partly by a roof is considered as enclosed. A convertible car or a coupe which has the roof completely down and is stowed will not be covered by the legislation and they will not be subject to the fixed penalty.
However, if a person is driving a vehicle with a sunroof they will be subject to the new legislation and they could be issued with a fixed penalty. Also a person sitting in a vehicle that is enclosed with the door open will be subject to the new fixed penalty.
The new rules will also apply to motorhomes, campervans and caravans when being used as a vehicle but not when they are being used as living accommodation. Therefore it would appear that smoking in the open door of any of these vehicles whilst stopped at the side of a road would be subject to the new fixed penalty but not if set up as living accommodation.
There is some relief for owners of boats, ships and aircrafts as they are already governed by other rules. Also work vehicles and public transport are covered by the current smokefree legislation.
From 1st October 2015 it will be an offence for:
• A person of any age to smoke in a private vehicle that is carrying a person under the age of 18
• A driver including provisional drivers not to stop a person smoking in a vehicle that is carrying persons under the age of 18
In the guidance provided by Gov.uk you will not be committing an offence if you are 17 years of age and you are smoking whilst alone in a private vehicle. Therefore when the amendments to the Children and Families Act 2014 are made should the legislation be drafted to ensure that if a 17 year old driver is smoking in a vehicle that has passengers and they are all over the age of 18 they will not be committing an offence? The proposals suggest that they can smoke in a vehicle whilst on their own but as soon as an adult enters the vehicle there will be more than one person and one is under the age of 18 therefore making them subject to the new penalty. We will review the amendments once drafted to see how this will apply.
The rules will not apply to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).
The proposals will be enforced by the police and they will have the power to apply discretion and issue a warning or they may issue a fixed penalty. In some situations they may refer an offence to court.
We will monitor the developments and we will consider the proposed changes in more detail once the changes have been made to the legislation.