If you vape, and you’re a driver, you may have questions about the legalities and potential impact of vaping while driving. This guide will provide detailed information about rules and guidelines and some tips to help you steer clear of trouble if you do decide to vape behind the wheel.
Is Vaping while Driving Legal?
You may have come across news reports and headlines that suggest that it’s illegal to vape while driving, but don’t believe everything you read. There aren’t any laws banning vaping when driving, but it is essential to consider the potential consequences of using an e-cigarette in the car. You may find that while vaping isn’t illegal, it could land you in trouble if you fail to see a hazard because a cloud affects your vision or you’re paying more attention to vaping than driving.
Although it’s not technically illegal to vape while driving, there are several avenues law enforcement authorities could pursue. If you take the example of texting when driving, you’ll get a better understanding of the ambiguity of the situation and also the different legislation in place in different states. In New York, for example, a vaper has been given a ticket for using a portable electronic device when stationed behind the wheel.
The best advice is to:
- Take care
- Find out what are the rules in the area where you drive
Every state has laws related to the condition of the windshield. It is essential that you can see well when on the road, which is why the guidelines are in place. The law varies from state to state, and as there is no specific law related to vaping, this is a gray area. To determine whether vaping is an issue it’s useful to consider the language related to obstructions. In the most basic terms, anything that has the potential to affect your visibility or field of vision could be an obstruction, but as you can see from these two examples, different states have varied interpretations.
In Alabama, it is illegal to have anything that isn’t transparent covering the windshield or any of the windows, while in Wisconsin, the law states that there should be no hanging objects that obscure vision.
It is possible that vapor could be classified as an obstruction, as a cloud could affect your ability to view the road ahead. In this case, it would be down to the legal enforcement officer in question to make a decision. There are currently no examples of tickets being handed out to drivers as a result of obscured windshields related to vaping, but the ambiguity of the wording doesn’t mean that this couldn’t happen in the future. To protect yourself:
- Check state laws
- Keep your windshield clean and clear
- Try not to cover the windscreen when vaping
Vaping with Minors in the Car
There are many states in the US, for example, California, which have banned vaping with children in the car. In these states, e-cigarettes like those from the Burst E-Liquid website fall under tobacco products, and if it’s illegal to smoke in a car with children, this means that vaping will also be prohibited. Even in states where smoking is legal, it’s best to avoid vaping with kids in the back of the car to protect their health.
If you are worried about the legalities, take these steps:
- Check the laws in the specific state
- If you’re unsure, pull over in a safe place and vape outside
Careless and Reckless Driving Offenses
Careless driving is a punishable driving offense, which often carries more severe fines than texting behind the wheel. If a police officer spots you driving behind a cloud or trying to fill up your tank while driving, you could face a careless driving charge. If you’re seen driving at excessive speed or putting other motorists’ lives at risk, your actions could fall under reckless driving.
There is no specific law related to vaping while driving, but there are examples of when using an e-cigarette could put you in danger of facing a charge of careless or reckless driving. If you’re speeding while obscured by a cloud of vapor, for example, a police officer is probably going to flag you down. If a vaper is responsible for an accident and they weren’t paying attention at the time, this could also mean that they are held liable for the crash.
Vaping while driving can be a distraction, but many other activities could also fall into the careless driving category, including:
- Reaching into the back seat
- Messing around with a satellite navigation device, music or entertainment system
- Eating and drinking
To stay away from trouble, every driver should pay attention to the rules of the road and what’s going on around them at all times.
The Law in New York
The legislation in New York is worth looking into if you vape and you’re a driver, as it is prohibited to use a series of items while driving. These include:
- Hand-held phones
- Any hand-held device with access to mobile data
- Any personal communication device with broadband capabilities
- Any two-way messaging gadget
- Electronic games and consoles
- Portable computers
- Personal digital assistants
The example of the ticket given to a vaping driver in New York stems from an officer’s interpretation of an e-cigarette as a ‘portable electronic device.’ With a lack of clarity governing the use of e-cigarettes in the car, it’s best for drivers to be wary of vaping, especially in New York.
Texting Versus Vaping
In New York, texting while driving laws were used to punish a vaping driver, but this appears to be an isolated incident. In many cases, drivers who are vaping get pulled over not because they’re vaping, but because police officers mistake the e-cig for a phone. Police officers usually let go of these drivers immediately.
As there aren’t any set laws governing vaping and driving, it’s best to avoid vaping when driving (even though the chances of being pulled by law enforcement officers are very slim).
Guidelines for Drivers
To avoid trouble, follow these guidelines:
- Open the windows and ensure clouds do not obscure your view
- Vape only when stationary
- Don’t vape with children in the car
- Pull over if you need to adjust your e-cigarette
- Don’t litter
Vaping and Driving in Great Britain
The law that relates to vaping in the UK is careless driving or driving without due care and attention. Vaping, like many other activities, can affect your ability to focus on the road and drive safely. If officers deem you’re driving carelessly while vaping, this could land you in hot water with UK police. There is no specific vaping law, but if it contributes to careless driving, vaping may play a role.
Enforceable penalties include:
- A fine (maximum £2,500)
- 3-9 points on your license
- Having your license taken off you (usually for repeat offenses)
Advice from the Police
The police are there to keep the roads safe, and as you would expect, their goal is reducing the prevalence of accidents. If you do vape and you’re a driver, it’s best to:
- Vape when the car has stopped
- Open the windows
- Avoid vaping with others in the vehicle
- Avoid cloud chasing
- Don’t fiddle with parts or try and change settings while driving
- Keep your full attention on the road
The number of vapers is growing all the time, and if you’re a driver, it’s useful to be aware of the rules of the road and any legislation that could affect you once you take the wheel.
Burst E-Liquid offers a great variety of e-liquid flavors and the chance for smokers to kick off their bad habit through a healthier practice. Read more about our products on our website!