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New Virginia Law Prohibits Smoking in Vehicles when Children are Present

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provides that the effects of secondhand smoke can be significant. In particular, secondhand smoke effects on children can include severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome. Children are particularly vulnerable to cigarette smoke because their bodies are still developing and their lungs are still growing. Designed to protect younger children from secondhand smoke, a new law took effect on July 1, 2016 that prohibits anyone from smoking in a car with a child under 8 years of age.

How will a Police Officer Be able to Tell How Old the Child is?

Introduced earlier this year as House Bill 1348, codified as Section 46.2-810.1 of the Code of Virginia, the new law provides that it is unlawful to smoke in a motor vehicle, either while moving or parked, when a minor under the age of 8 is present. You may wonder how a police officer will know how old the child is. After all, children don’t generally carry government issued ID’s on them.

While it may be difficult to determine the age of a child, bill sponsor Todd Pillion has indicated that because children between the ages of 0 and 7 years old are required to be secured in child safety seats, it should be easy to determine if the child is under 8 years old. Accordingly, if the officer notices a child in a car seat, then the officer may be able to deduce that the adult smoking in the car is in violation of the new law.

You Cannot be Pulled Over Just Because You are Smoking in the Car with a Young Child

Penalties for violating the new law are not severe and punishment will result in a civil fine of $100. No demerit points will be assessed to the ticketed individual and no court costs will be required either. All in all, you probably wouldn’t think that you’d need to hire an attorney for this matter.

Despite the relatively minor punishment related to the new law, it is important to note that if you’re being ticketed for smoking in the car with a young child, then you’ve also been pulled over for something else. The new law is considered a secondary offence, meaning that a police officer cannot pull you over for simply committing the act of smoking in a motor vehicle while a child is present. There are a variety of traffic offenses that can impact your driving record, points on your license, your insurance premiums and more. In those instances, legal help is strongly advised.

Our Leesburg & Loudoun County Traffic Offense Attorneys can Help you Today

If you are facing traffic violation charges, related to the new law or otherwise, you need an experienced traffic attorney. The attorneys at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, PC are dedicated to staying up to date on all laws affecting traffic violations, including routine traffic offenses.  Please contact our Leesburg and Loudoun County attorneys today if you need legal assistance.

Resources:

cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/health_effects/

law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title46.2/chapter8/section46.2-810.1/

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Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC is located in Leesburg, VA and serves clients in and around Ashburn, Paeonian Springs, Hamilton, Sterling, Lincoln, Waterford, Leesburg, Purcellville, Lovettsville, Middleburg, Philomont, Round Hill, Arcola, Aldie, Dulles, Bluemont, Herndon, Haymarket, Reston, Great Falls, Clarke County, Fairfax County, Fairfax City County, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Frederick County, Warren County, Winchester County, Arlington County.

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