Imagine this. You are driving down the road on your way to the grocery store and you look over to see someone puffing away on an electronic cigarette. No big deal, right? Well, according to law enforcement in Upstate New York it is a big deal, and as of March 20, 2014, Jason Dewing could be the first person to ever get a ticket for it. To make the story even more interesting, there’s no law against “vaping” and driving in New York or in any other state in the United States, but that is not what Mr. Dewing was originally cited for.
Jason Dewing was driving down the road “vaping” an e-cig when all of a sudden he looked up to see blue lights in his rearview mirror. His first thoughts must have been, “Was I speeding? Did I fail to use a turn signal? Do they think I know something about the missing Malaysia jet (Flight MH370)? Why am I being pulled over?” According to a post that he has posted in numerous “vaping” communities on Facebook, he was simply “vaping” an electronic cigarette when he was cited for using a cell phone while driving.
The state of New York does have laws in place that prohibit drivers from operating mobile telephones and other portable electronic devices. According to Vehicle & Traffic Law- Distracted Driving, Talking, & Texting Article 33 Section 1225-d, “Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person shall operate a motor vehicle while using any portable electronic device while such vehicle is in motion.” It goes on to outline what constitutes a portable electronic device, “Hand-held mobile telephone, personal digital assistant (PDA), handheld device with mobile data access, laptop computer, pager, broadband personal communication device, two-way messaging device, electronic game, or portable computing device.” According to the law, an electronic cigarette is not established as being a portable electronic device; therefore, Mr. Dewing was not doing anything deserving of a traffic ticket.
Currently, there is no law against drivers smoking tobacco cigarettes while driving. It could be argued that smoking traditional cigarettes is far more distracting than smoking electronic cigarettes. In order to smoke a cigarette while driving drivers must first fidget around in their pockets and purses to find the pack that contains the cigarettes. Then, drivers must take one out and light it while smoke blows into their eyes. Finally, when drivers are finished with their cigarettes they have to look for somewhere to extinguish the fire, and we all know how that’s done. Out the window the cigarette goes and onto the windshield of the driver behind them.
In order to “vape” an electronic cigarette all a driver must do is push a button on a battery. From there, the e-juice which is contained in an atomizer tank is turned into vapor which is then inhaled and exhaled the way traditional cigarettes are. Drivers spend far more time with their hands on the steering wheel and are less distracted while “vaping” than they are while smoking. Plus, no nasty cigarette butts end up on the windshields of unsuspecting drivers when a driver is finished “vaping” an e-cig.
Electronic cigarettes are already in the process or rewriting many state and federal laws. The fact is; however, there is not a law prohibiting drivers from “vaping” while driving in New York. Therefore, Mr. Dewing should not have received a traffic citation for doing so. I will be sitting down to speak with Jason Dewing about this historical event in an exclusive interview and will have his reaction in my next story. To get the follow up story make sure you are subscribed to my updates here on Examiner.com as well as my Blog at VolVapors.com.
UPDATE-Here is the follow up story: Exclusive: Man found guilty of electronic cigarette law that does not exist