Just last week, Illinois passed House Bill 2276, which makes it illegal for adults to smoke cigarettes or similar products in a vehicle if children are present.
The exact wording of the bill states that “a personal shall not smoke in a motor vehicle containing a person under 18 years of age, regardless of whether the vehicle is in motion, at rest, or has its windows down,” and it goes on to define smoking as “inhaling, exhaling, burning or carrying a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, weed, plant, regulated narcotic or other combustible substance.”
The new law went into effect immediately, and a first violation is considered a petty offense with fines not to exceed $100. A subsequent offense involves a fine that is not to exceed $250.
One of the key notes with the new law is that it is not considered to be a primary offense, meaning a police officer cannot pull you over simply because they suspect that you are smoking in a vehicle with children present. They must spot another moving violation in order to pull you over to determine if you are indeed in violation of the new law.
Challenging The Citation
Unless you are smoking while you’re interacting with a police officer who pulls you over for speeding or another moving violation, it is going to be very hard for an officer to prove that you were smoking with minors in the car. Smoke has a tendency to stick to fabric, so your car may smell of smoke even if you haven’t smoked in your vehicle in a while. Unless they catch you in the act, or you admit to smoking with minors in the car, it’s going to be a very hard case to prove.
If you’ve been cited under the new law, consider talking with an attorney or challenging the case in court. We’d be happy to take the case to court for your or point you in the right direction in terms of how to go about challenging the case if it doesn’t make financial sense for either party to hire a lawyer. Police and the prosecution are just hoping that you’ll admit to smoking or plead no contest, when in fact their evidence against you is nothing more than the suspicions of an officer who likely didn’t have a clear view of the scene.
Don’t fall into their trap, challenge the citation and read up on our tips for contesting a traffic ticket so you know how to prepare yourself for court. It may not seem like a big deal, but those fines can add up in a hurry, and given how circumstantial the state’s case against you is, you really should talk with a lawyer about your options. To set up a free case consultation with a member of our team, contact Appelman & Lloyd today at (630) 717-7801.