How Does a McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder Factor Into Driving Laws?

Law Firm Newswire



Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) March 12, 2015 – Distracted driving usually focuses on using a mobile device while behind the wheel. But it also encompasses other activities, including eating and driving.

According to news and police reports, one Alabama driver was observed eating a hamburger in a moving vehicle over the course of two miles while in Georgia. He was somewhat taken aback when a state police officer flagged him down. He had not been driving in an erratic manner, was not speeding, using a cellphone or texting. He was not sure what was wrong. To the driver’s immense surprise, he was ticketed for driving while eating – considered in this case to be a distraction.

“This particular case does make you smile, but the underlying message is still very salient to driving today: don’t do anything that distracts you while driving, including eating a McDonald’s quarter pounder (with added cheese),” Bobby Lee, an Austin injury lawyer, said.

Georgia’s law relating to distracted driving is exceedingly vague, stating that a driver shall drive with due care and attention and shall not engage in any action that could distract him or her. There is no existing definition as to what a “distracting action” may be. Other jurisdictions may have similarly unclear laws; the Governors Highway Safety Association has stated quite plainly that figuring out how to apply any distracted driving law is a struggle.

“This case may make it to traffic court, as the driver plans to fight the ticket. It may even get to a higher court that will attempt to define the scope of the law,” suggested Lee.

A local DUI/DWI attorney, who also eats while driving, was heard to say the ticket for driving while distracted for eating a hamburger was a first.

A quick look at other states reveals that most of them consider distracted driving to include talking on cellphones and texting, but few have eating on the books as an example. There are two exceptions to this lack: Michigan and South Dakota. In Michigan, state police consider eating and drinking to be distractions, and in Huron, South Dakota, the highly specific act of eating pizza is clearly stated as a distraction.

The main difficulty with trying to legislate a definition of distracted driving is the impossibility of legislating common sense for drivers. After obvious and egregious dangerous acts like texting are addressed, what’s next? “People still comb their hair, apply makeup, shave, change, eat, drink and play with gadgets while driving. It’s an e-epidemic with no end in sight, and it’s killing people who take their minds and eyes off the road, even briefly,” Lee added. “Just don’t do it.”

To learn more, visit Lee, Gober & Reyna 11940 Jollyville Road #220-S Austin, Texas 78759 Phone: 512.478.8080
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