Smoking Vehicle

On any given day, Southland residents traveling the basin's roads and freeways may encounter smoking vehicles.  SCAQMD depends on public participation to help reduce visible exhaust from vehicles.   Drivers are encouraged to take a proactive approach to improving this problem  by reporting the vehicle to SCAQMD's smoking vehicle program.

How to  report a smoking vehicle?
Drivers who spot a vehicle emitting excessive amounts of exhaust smoke can call the SCAQMD's toll free number (1-800-CUT-SMOG) or send an e-mail to and report it.  Verizon and AT&T mobile phone subscribers can access the automated system toll-free by simply pressing “#”  SMOG (7664).

An SCAQMD staff member will ask callers:

  • the smoking vehicle's license plate number (the program only has jurisdiction over vehicles registered in the State of California);
  • the vehicle make; and
  • the date, time and location of the observation.

Those who e-mail a complaint must include all of the above information in the body of their e-mail.  The program is voluntary and those making complaints remain anonymous.

What happens after a complaint is received?
Using the Department of Motor Vehicle's database, SCAQMD retrieves the owner's registration information and mails an advisory letter to the owner informing them that a complaint has been filed against their vehicle. All information involved in the program remains confidential.

The letter advises smoking vehicle owners that their vehicle was reported to be smoking and recommends they have it repaired to eliminate excessive emissions. The letter also alerts the owner to the fact that excessively smoking vehicles violate the State of California Motor Vehicle Codes (Sections 27153 and 27153.5) which carries a fine of $100 to $250, -- depending on the type of vehicle -- for first time offenders.

After owners make the necessary repairs, they are asked to complete the Smoking Vehicle Compliance Form attached to the advisory letter and return it to SCAQMD.  More than 40% of the vehicle owners who receive an advisory letter return their completed compliance forms to the SCAQMD, stating that they have attended to their vehicle, either having it checked and if warranted having any needed repairs made.

Can SCAQMD impose fines on vehicle owners who have been reported?
No. However the California Highway Patrol (CHP) can cite passenger vehicles as well as big rigs and buses for excessive smoke and, if warranted, impose a fine.