It is something we all do, whether it be grabbing an early morning coffee, getting a sneaky burger on the way home from work because you can’t wait for dinner, eating a protein bar on the way to the gym or simply having sip of water at the traffic lights on a hot day. But all of these occasions could place you in a position of losing those important demerit points or having to pay a hefty fine.
In NSW there is no current legislation that specifically states you cannot eat and drive or consume liquid (excluding alcohol) and drive but there are laws that allow you to be fined for both of those things. Section 297(1) of the Road Rules Act 2007 (NSW) states that ‘a driver must not drive unless they have proper control of the vehicle’ and it is under this section that NSW drivers find themselves in trouble with the police.
By eating or drinking behind the wheel usually means one must take at least one hand off the wheel and likely look away from the road for a few moments or more, resulting in not having ‘proper control of the vehicle’ and hence opening up the possibility of being fined under s297(1). Police officers are often quite discretionary around eating and driving due to the lack of specific legislative measure’s surrounding eating and driving despite this if you are caught eating and driving or drinking and driving it is very likely you could fined, and lose demit points for doing so.
So what should you do? It is imperative for the safety of yourself and other road users, as well as the safety of your bank account, that you remain in full control of the vehicle that you are driving and make driving your number one task when doing so and if this means not consuming any liquid or food while driving then so be it.