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Santa Clara County

Conservation Tip

Motor vehicles are the largest source of air pollution in the Bay Area. Surprisingly, non-commuters make 75% of all automobile trips. An effective way for non-commuters to reduce automobile pollution is to Trip-Link, or to combine several small car trips into one larger trip.

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Smoking Vehicle Complaints

Vehicles spewing exhaust are not only unsightly – they’re unhealthy. Smoking vehicles are responsible for 20 to 30 percent of the soot and particles in our air, which contribute to respiratory diseases. A smoking vehicle generates ten to fifteen times as much pollution as a well-tuned vehicle.

The Smoking Vehicle Assistance Program of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District allows the public to report smoking vehicles and helps connect owners of older, polluting vehicles with programs for vehicle repair or retirement. It allows you to:

Smoking vehicles are against the law. A car, truck or bus emitting visible exhaust for more than ten seconds may be cited by law enforcement and receive a fine of $100 for cars or $250 for trucks and buses.

Although diesel engines emit some smoke when accelerating, they should not smoke constantly. Diesel vehicles are subject to the same smoking vehicle law as gasoline engines.

How Complaints Are Investigated

When the Air District receives a complaint about a smoking vehicle, it sends a letter to the owner explaining the air quality consequences of smoking vehicles, warning about the possibility of being cited, and encouraging the owner to have the vehicle checked and repaired.

The Air District does not take any enforcement action against owners of smoking vehicles. However, notification by the District can help encourage owners to repair their vehicles before they get a ticket.

Owners who have received a smoking vehicle letter are encouraged to fill out a questionnaire about the status and condition of their vehicle at the time of the complaint. This helps the Air District to evaluate and improve the Smoking Vehicle Report process.

About This Program

The Air District receives more complaints about smoking vehicles than about any other category of air pollution. Since its start in 1992, the program has evolved from a simple report and enforcement program into a more comprehensive resource for Bay Area residents focusing on consumer education and assistance.

The Smoking Vehicle Assistance Program is available in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sonoma counties, as well as the southwestern portion of Solano County.

Last Updated: 10/11/2012