Is Eating While Driving Illegal?

Grabbing a Quick Bite on the Road Could Bite Back

After a long day at work or during a never-ending road trip, it’s common to stop by the nearest fast-food joint and pick up a meal for the road. Whether it be a burger, salad, or chicken nuggets, any to-go indulgence may put you at risk of a traffic ticket for distracted driving.

While distracted driving typically refers to cell phone use, it can also refer to anything that diverts your attention away from safely operating your vehicle. Examples include texting, using GPS navigation, putting on makeup, or anything that inhibits your visual, manual and/or cognitive abilities.

Three Types of Distracted Driving

The three types of distractions are visual, manual and cognitive.

  • Visual: Taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: Taking your mind off of driving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that “Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction. Sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving. Any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others.” Texting while driving is especially serious because it involves all three types of distraction, which explains why it’s addressed so often and penalized so harshly.

For context, texting tickets increased by 918% between 2011 and 2016 in New York. That explains why law enforcement cracks down so hard on texting while driving. However, it’s important to understand that officers can ticket you for eating while driving and deem such actions “distracted driving.” Even if they mistakenly thought you were looking down at your phone when you were actually grabbing your delicious cheeseburger for another bite, officers have the right to ticket you.

Retain Legal Representation for Your Traffic Ticket

A key takeaway from this is that distracted driving takes many forms, but you should always be cautious when eating behind the wheel. We’ve all been in those positions where we have to grip our food the right way without making a mess, or struggle to eat with one hand. Some may call it talent, but the law deems it distracting.

Our traffic ticket attorney has spent over three decades advocating for drivers’ rights and preventing them from having to pay their ticket. We obtain a reputable track record for helping clients overcome their legal trouble and understand both sides of the table thanks to having a former traffic court judge on our team.

Reach out to us online or by calling (212) 235-1525 now!

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