Are you in the habit of vaping while driving?
Well, if you’re reading this, you probably are.
Whipping out your vape pen while behind the wheel of a car is pretty common these days. Same as smoking cigarettes. Or using a phone.
It’s also equally — if not more so — dangerous as those two things.
Well, because you’re a driver on the road… and your head is enveloped in a cloud of vapor! It’s called careless driving and massively ups your risk of an accident. Still, lots of people do it even though they’re not entirely sure whether it’s safe or legal. So here’s a Cliffs notes answer to those two questions:
·yes, vaping while driving is legal. There’s nothing in the United States law [federal law or state highway law] that prohibits you from having or using your e-cigarette when you’re in a car. As long as that doesn’t prevent you from safely operating the vehicle. But, you can expect heavy fines if you’re pulled over and the police officer determines your vaping is contributing to careless driving, windshield obstruction, or distraction that can lead to an accident.
·no, vaping when operating any vehicle is not safe. It can’t be, inherently, because you’re fidgeting with something when you should be keeping both hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Plus, using some e-cigarettes is an involved activity — they might have extra buttons you need to press, or need refilling at a moment’s notice, or they produce thick vapor clouds.
Personally, I’m a massive advocate of vaping… as long as you’re not putting anyone in danger when using your vape device. So if you want to drive and vape, here are some common sense tips you should take to heart.
Tips for vaping & driving:
1.Use a small vape pen — smaller vape, smaller clouds, no physical distraction.
2.Never refill mid-drive — pull up at a gas stop if your device needs attention.
3.Crack open a window when vaping [lets the vapor dissipate faster].
4.Don’t use high VG or high nicotine e-liquids [thicker vapor + can make you dizzy].
5.Avoid drip-style vaporizers & choose a closed pen [less chance for spills]
Okay, got that?
Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of why using your vaping device when driving is still legal… and when it might not be legal.
Yeah, Vaping & Driving is (Still) Legal in the United States
And it’s legal pretty much everywhere else.
Well, mostly because smoking and driving is legal. And holding a burning stick between your fingers raises the risk of an accident exponentially more than holding something that won’t burn your face off. So it doesn’t make sense to ban vaping in the a if we don’t ban smoking in one. We can thank the tobacco industry for this small mercy.
You might not get away with using a vaping device while behind the wheel every time you get pulled over.
Law enforcement has a lot of leeway when it comes to issuing a ticket to careless drivers. Sure, they follow some guidelines, but the ultimate decision to write a hefty fine [or not] still lies with them.
Here are a few examples of when a police officer might decide to slap you with a fine, penalty points, or might even decide to take your license away and ban you from driving:
·Windshield obstruction — there are specific laws against windshield obstruction… and blowing ungodly amounts of vapor that sticks as a thin film of muck on your windshield counts as an obstruction. If you’re noticed by the police — and your car is all fogged up because you didn’t roll down your car window & it’s causing visibility problems — expect a fine.
·E-cig as an electronic device — technically, a vaping device is a portable electronic device, in addition to things like a cell phone or a tablet. Some states have laws that explicitly ban using electronic devices while driving. If your state has this kind of a law or highway code, a police officer could potentially charge you and you could suffer consequences if they notice your use of vapes while driving.
·Failure to maintain proper control of your vehicle — lots of stuff can go under this umbrella, and it gives the law enforcement a reasonable excuse to charge you with something if they notice you swerving on the road.
So yeah, while the use of vapes is legal in these cases, keep in mind that in all the above cases, you could be charged with reckless driving or driving without due care. This is especially true if you’re in an accident or a crash. If that happens, you’re almost definitely getting at least a ticket, and your use of vapes will count against you.
NOTE: The one exception to all these are state, municipality, and locality owned vehicles in certain states. Some legislatures have laws against vaping in vehicles owned by cities or institutions.
Can Passengers in Your Car Vape?
Everything I wrote above holds true in case of passengers, too.
Yes, they can vape. But they need to vape in a way that doesn’t obstruct your eyes or your driving. So windows open, minimal vapor, and no blowing thick clouds of vapour directly at the windshield.
Vaping With Minors in the Car Could Be Illegal
There are specific laws in certain states that prohibit smoking in a car if a minor is present. Logically, we can take this to mean that vaping could be prohibited in these cases as well.
This is not universal, though — only 7 states have these laws. They’re Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Main, Oregon, Utah, and Vermont [as well as Puerto Rico].
That said, these regulations change often, so you’ll want to do a bit of research.
Or, better yet, don’t vape if there are children in your car. There’s a time and place for everything, so avoid this as it’s a situation that can result in active harm to children. Just don’t do it.
Vaping & Car Accident Insurance
As a rule of thumb, the fact that you vape won’t bear on your car insurance rates.
That doesn’t mean you won’t pay up the wazoo in case of a collision. If you crash, and it turns out in court that you were vaping, your insurer may simply drop you and refuse to settle any claims resulting from the accident. Especially if the damage was substantial and/or there were injuries.
For now, we’re not seeing any specific US cases that point to this being the norm, but it’s insurance… insurance regulations typically take everything into account, and it’s a distinct possibility that the insurers will start taking vaping against you if it means they’ll save some money. So the best thing you can do is pay attention when driving, not use a vape, and not give them an excuse to rip you off.
In Conclusion — Don’t Vape & Drive?
Easier said than done, right?
A lot of drivers who vape don’t have a problem with whipping out their vaping device while cruising on the highway. In theory, it shouldn’t be a problem.
But, in practice, it often turns out that it is.
All you need is a moment, a few seconds of impaired vision, for example, for a vape sesh to turn into a disastrous crash. Don’t even think about reckless driving laws and committing an offense here — think about other motorists going at an excessive speed that might be putting you in danger if you’re not extra careful.
And hold off vaping until you pull over.
If you absolutely can’t, pick an electronic cigarette that gives off minimal amounts of vapor and is single-button operation so you know it’s a safe bet to use it because it won’t distract you.