Leave the Travel Mug at Home

A bill is proposed which may allow law enforcement to begin ticketing drivers who eat or drink on the road.

We’ve learned the hard way of the dangers created by texting while driving. But drinking coffee? Sipping from a water bottle? Munching on chips?

A bill introduced by State Assemblyman John Wisniewski will make you think twice about chowing on that drive-through burger or enjoying your morning java while driving to work. The bill, if approved, will authorize law enforcement to ticket motorists who engage in anything “unrelated to the operation of the vehicle, in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle.” The penalty for a first-time offense is as much as $400. Break the law three times, and you’ll fork over $800.

While the proposal won’t specifically prohibit drinking coffee while driving or anything else we do behind the wheel—eating, arguing, reading, shaving, putting on makeup, and so on—the idea has touched a nerve with BERGEN readers.

“We know texting and driving is dangerous,” says Kerry-Anne Shiels, 33, of Rutherford. “But drinking coffee or soda doesn’t take away as much attention as looking at your phone. That’s certainly not distracted driving in my book.”

The bill is currently before lawmakers in Trenton.

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