SPECIAL REPORT: Truckers burned up over alleged ticket in California

| 2/3/2003

A call to a trucking radio show about fines for smoking inside truck cabs in California has caused a stir among drivers.

The incident may turn out to be nothing more than a rumor or misunderstanding, according to sources contacted by Land Line. But state officials are trying to track down anyone who has received a ticket.

According to Dale Sommers of the Truckin' Bozo radio show on WLW in Cincinnati, a caller earlier this week said he was fined $1,000 in California for smoking in his cab under the state's ban on smoking in the workplace.

Officer Tom Lundy of the California Highway Patrol, who has checked into the rumor, says he has found no evidence that it is correct.

"I get calls on and off all day from truckers who say 'I heard this on the CB'," Lundy said. "Everyone's panicking over this report."

"I called different divisions around here, and nobody has ever heard of somebody being cited for that," he said. "There is no section of the vehicle code that pertains to that."

However, like all good rumors, there may be a scrap of truth in it. Both Sommers and Lundy said if a trucker were hauling gasoline, he might be fined for smoking under safety rules - not California's workplace smoking rules.

The smoking law, which is available from several sources on the Internet, says the cab of a truck is not part of the state's definition of "place of employment."

The law says "places of employment" do not include "cabs of motortrucks, as defined in Section 410 of the Vehicle Code, or truck tractors, as defined in Section 655 of the Vehicle Code."

But there is an exception. Another recent caller to Truckin' Bozo said he had also received a ticket for smoking in the cab, but he was told it was because his wife was in the truck. That does fit into the law, which says the cab is part of the workplace if nonsmoking employees are present.

Lundy said he and others at CHP would like to track down the case if a ticket has been issued. But to do that, he said, he has to talk to a person who has received a ticket.

"Nobody knows what sections would be cited for it," he said. "If I could find a code that it was cited under, I could find out if it has been run by us."

If you are a trucker who has been ticketed for smoking in your cab, you can call Officer Tom Lundy in the Commercial Vehicle Section of the California Highway Patrol at (916) 445-1865. Please call only if you yourself have received a ticket for this offense.

--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor