Why drivers could be fined for eating behind the wheel

It’s not uncommon to witness motorists having a swig of water or tucking into a piece of fruit behind the wheel, but have you ever wondered if it’s legal to do so?

Victoria Police went about setting the record straight this week by revealing the laws around food and drink consumption as a motorist.

Taking to Facebook on Friday, they started a poll asking: “Is it illegal to consume food and drinks when driving?”

And it appeared the online community were far from assertive with their response, with 46 per cent of people believing such behaviour was breaking the law while 54 per cent suggested there was no issue.

Victoria Police later put the post’s followers out of their misery by revealing the correct answer.

“It is not illegal to consume food and non-alcoholic beverages when driving,” they revealed, with the slight majority taking home the victory.

The police force duly noted that legally drinking behind the wheel does not include alcoholic beverages.

Eating behind the wheel is technically legal. Source: Getty, file.
Eating behind the wheel is technically legal. Source: Getty, file.

“You cannot drive if you are affected by alcohol and it is illegal to consume alcoholic beverages behind the wheel,” they said.

Why you could cop fine for eating while driving

“However, if eating or drinking interferes with your driving or causes an accident, you could be charged with careless driving,” police said.

If Victorian drivers are found guilty of driving carelessly, they can cop a $387 fine along while racking up three demerit points.

And Australia’s other states are no different.

While most states don’t have specific rules regarding the consumption of food and drink while driving, eating and drinking behind the wheel can be determined as a driver operating their vehicle in a dangerous manner, depending on the circumstances.

NSW motorists face a potential $433 fine and three demerit points if not in control of their vehicle while eating and drinking.

Queensland Police are a little sterner on the rule, with drivers receiving fines of up to $4000 for “driving without due care and attention”.

One incident where police deemed eating behind the wheel as unacceptable was when a female P-plater in WA tucked into her breakfast while driving.

She was later fined $300 and handed three demerit points.