Berkeley dad charged for smoking with child in car

When a Berkeley father saw flashing lights in his rear vision mirror and heard the wail of a police siren one afternoon a few months ago, he knew what was about to come - or at least he thought he did.

"Yeah, I was on my phone," he replied, when asked by officers why he thought they'd pulled him over.

That assumption was spot on - eagle-eyed cops had spotted the 33-year-old driving along Bristol Parade in Berkeley holding his black LG phone up to his ear only minutes earlier.

Coupled with that, police checks revealed his licence had expired last year.

However, what the man didn't anticipate was the final charge that would be laid against him.

Police documents presented to Wollongong Local Court on Wednesday said officers detected a strong odour of cigarette smoke wafting from the car while they were speaking to him.

Noticing an 18-month-old child in the back seat of the car, they asked him if he'd been smoking while driving. "Yeah, I didn't know I couldn't," was the man's reply.

Officers soon informed him that it was illegal to smoke in a car carrying children - a law which came into force in July 2009 and carries a $250 fine.

Facing court on Wednesday, the man pleaded guilty to each of the charges and was fined a total of $2400, including $200 for the smoking offence.

When asked by magistrate Darryl Pearce to explain his actions, the man was only able to muster a few words.

"Stupidity, your honour.

"There's no excuse for that."