From 1st October it is now illegal to smoke in cars if children under the age of 18 are present in that car. The new offence carries a £50 spot fine for the smoker, and an additional £50 for the driver, although the fine can be reduced by paying it sooner. However, according to a number of groups including police groups have said that the fines are unlikely to be issued, at least in the first place, because police will take a cautionary and educational approach to the new law.
Others have suggested that it is likely to only be enforced in cases where the driver is pulled over for an unrelated motoring offence and they are found to be smoking in the car if children are present. Some police groups have even said that they will not enforce the new laws at all, which will come as a blow to ministers and health groups that have lobbied for the new law to be introduced for years.
However, one health group has said that they expect it to become self-governing and self-policing because the new law will have the support of the majority of people, even including smokers themselves.
Any adult that is found to be smoking in a car with children can be fined £50. If this person is not the driver, then the driver will also receive the same fine. The amount levied can be reduced for paying within two weeks, but if the smoker challenges it and are found guilty in court, the fine could rise to as much as £1,000.
Several groups, including the RAC motoring group, have said that they believe it is impractical to expect police to be able to enforce the law. They have also said that there is a good chance that people will even forget about the law, unless it is enforced in a decent number of cases. A poll of drivers suggests that 90% believe that the police will not enforce the new law, which begs the question of why it has been introduced in the first place.