If you’re caught smoking or vaping in a car where there’s a child under 14 present, it could cost you $100. That’s thanks to a new Alabama law that took effect on August 1. Even if you have the windows down, it’s still against the law.
Drivers can’t be pulled over solely because a law enforcement officer saw them (or someone else in the vehicle) smoking. It’s a secondary violation.
That means if an officer pulls someone over for another violation (for example, speeding) and sees someone smoking or vaping or has “probable cause” to believe that they just were, they can face a $100 citation. Therefore, even if you managed to stash the cigarette or vape pen somewhere, if the car still has a strong smell of smoke, that could still be a violation.
The new law has been a goal of a state representative from Birmingham for at least six years. She says that she was finally able to convince her fellow lawmakers that she wasn’t trying to prevent adults from smoking but simply to protect children who are often unwilling victims of secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke poses serious risks to children
According to a physician with the Alabama Department of Public Health, secondhand smoke can place children at greater risk of developing respiratory and ear infections. It’s even been blamed for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The doctor notes that smoking in a confined area like a car makes it even more dangerous.
Alabama certainly isn’t the first state to enact this kind of law. A number of other states have banned smoking in a vehicle with children in some cases up to 18 years old for years now.
If you’re already facing a traffic citation and an additional citation for smoking with a child present is added on, you could be looking at paying a lot of money. If you believe they’re unwarranted, it may be worthwhile to get legal guidance in challenging them.